Over the last six seasons, the New York Giants have laid a blueprint to building a championship caliber roster: a strong armed quarterback, a bevy of weapons on offense coupled with an elite ability to rush the passer. The Giants have single-handedly spiked the market value of pass rushers by highlighting the immense role they must play on defense. With the imminent departure of Osi Umenyiora this offseason, don't be surprised to see Big Blue retool their pass rush with their first-round pick. Ezekiel Ansah out of BYU would be an incredible steal for General Manager Jerry Reese & Co. in the 2013 NFL Draft.
If the Giants want to ensure that the pass rush remains among the most feared units in the league for 2013 and beyond, the front office must add young talent this offseason. Justin Tuck has not been consistently productive in two seasons, Chris Canty is was a disappointment in 2012, Linval Jospeh showed this year that he may not be the dominant presence in the middle he was projected to be, while the Marvin Austin experiment has all but failed.
Save for Jason Pierre-Paul, there are question marks regarding every player on the defensive line right now.
That's not to say that this unit can't return in 2013 with a vengeance. There is enough talent on the defensive line that Perry Fewell should be able to muster up a more effective pass rush than we saw this season. However, with Justin Tuck's age and injury concerns, it would be prudent to look to the future at the defensive end position. Best case scenario, Tuck has two or three productive years left in him. If the team does not act now to breed a successor for Tuck, the defensive end cupboard will be barren when it comes time to replace him.
For the Giants, it would be an ideal scenario for Ansah to spend a season or two behind Justin Tuck learning the intricacies of an NFL defense. Make no mistake about it: Ansah is not going to come into the NFL and become an immediate impact player. The size, speed and overall athleticism are there, but it takes much more than that to become a productive player in the NFL.
Ansah still has questions to answer regarding his run defense, and it's likely that his first season or two in the league are going to be as a pass rushing specialist. As a pass rusher, he was double teamed consistently in college. However, Ansah has not learned how to use his frame to his advantage. His pad height is inconsistent and he often gets driven off the line on interior runs. He has the ability to develop into a dominant defender against the run, he just hasn't shown it yet.
Similar to Jason Pierre-Paul when he was coming out of South Florida, Ansah's ceiling is off the charts. He is 6'6 and 270 pounds. He can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt. He can play on the outside, or he can line up at nose tackle in nickel packages. Although Ansah has only been playing football for three years, his non-stop motor makes up for his lack of experience.
Currently, Ansah is slated as a mid first-round pick. The Giants pick at No. 19 and it's a realistic possibility that Ansah is still around to be selected at that point. However, given his raw athletic ability, Ansah is definitely a guy who's stock could rise considerably once the NFL combine comes around. Team's have seen the success that Pierre-Paul has had in the NFL, and it's likely that Pierre-Paul success improves Ansah's draft stock.
If the Giants want to remain the same kind of team that has won two Super Bowls since 2007, then the pass rush must get retooled this offseason. When the pass rush has been at its best, there have always been three dominant defensive ends capable of getting to the passer. Right now, Pierre-Paul is the only player on the depth chart who can be considered a dominant player.
If Ezekiel Ansah is available at No. 19, the Giants could once again develop one of the fiercest pass rushing duos the league has ever seen.
Also…Chris Canty, Ezekiel Ansah, Florida, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jerry Reese, Justin Tuck, Marvin Austin, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell
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