Was Ansah the Right Pick for Detroit?
Now most years, when you are sitting at the 5th spot in the draft, you’d be guaranteed to have one of the top-3 Offensive Tackles in the draft available to you. The Lions lost both of their starting Offensive Tackles from last season - Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus - and clearly that was their biggest need going into the draft. Fittingly enough, Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, and Lane Johnson - three top tier Offensive Tackles - were all off the board when the Lions pick came around.
Now apart from losing both starting Offensive Tackles from last season, the Lions also lost both of their starting Defensive Ends - Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. But they lightened the load by signing former Seahawks DT Jason Jones - who the Lions will be reportedly placing at the end position - and have also made it known that they expect a decent amount of production from young DE’s Willie Young and Ronnell Lewis. Young has shown some serious flash in his first two seasons. The main question with him is whether he can handle starters minutes. Lewis, on the other hand, was a 4th rounder in 2012 is only 22 years old.
Most recently, Lewis found himself in a very Lions-like situation: drunk, in the middle of a bar fight, which ended with the Defensive End being tasered by the cops and arrested. He’s now facing charges.
Could that have factored into the decision to find a Defensive End now?
Possibly. But even so, it doesn’t need to be with the 5th overall pick.
Ezekiel Ansah is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing figures in this year’s draft. While just about everyone else on the board has waited their entire life for the NFL Draft, Ansah has only played football for the better part of three years, and only one of those years has he been remotely effective.
In his Senior Year at BYU, Ansah recorded 62 tackles, 13 for loss and 4.5 sacks. He then had a stellar outing in the Senior Bowl that a lot of people believe really sold his talents to Detroit.
His motor is unquestionable, but making that jump from BYU’s opponents (only ranked opponents in 2012: Notre Dame and Boise State) to the NFL’s is a heck of a climb.
What’s even more frustrating is that this is now the 3rd time in four years the Lions have drafted a Defensive Lineman in the first round (Suh in 2010 and Fairley in 2011). Yet despite those back-to-back first-rounders, the unit as a whole greatly underperformed last season and the team’s losing the top performer (Avril) from that underperforming unit.
All in all, there’s definitely a chance that Ansah becomes a great complement to Suh and Fairley. With his speed, and the amount of attention that the two DT’s should demand if they play to their capabilities, the Lions D-Line could really wreak havoc on opposing offenses. But the offensive line concerns are extremely troubling and even though the Lions weren’t able to trade down, I still think the next best Tackle, DJ Fluker or the top Guard in the draft, Jonathan Cooper, may have been the smarter pick this year. And if the Defensive Line underperforms yet again this season, there’ll be a lot of speculation that both GM Martin Mayhew and Head Coach Jim Schwartz will be out of a job by the end of December.