With an aging defensive core, the Steelers need to begin planning for their future in an effort to avoid a sizable defensive setback. They'll likely look to the draft for young players who could eventually take the reins from the superstars that have made the Steelers' defense so dominant for so long. One player who the Steelers seem particularly interested in is BYU's defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekiel Ansah.
"Word is the Pittsburgh Steelers drooling over Ezekiel Ansah/BYU as a 3-4 OLB," tweeted Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net. Pauline went on to say that the Steelers like the idea of Ansah as a rush linebacker, which many people believe he could be extremely effective at in the NFL.
Ansah, a native of Ghana who only began playing football in 2010, is an extremely raw prospect, but he has the tools to develop into a sensational defensive monster. He's incredibly explosive out of his stance, and has a rare strength/speed combination that allows him to blow by offensive linemen or run them over. He's a vicious tackler who can send a ballcarrier to the ground effortlessly. He is sometimes fooled easily by misdirection and draw plays, and can sometimes look lost on the field, but that should improve drastically with coaching and experience.
Ansah logged 4.5 sacks, 13.0 tackles for loss, nine passes defended, and a forced fumble during his senior year at BYU.
I love this pick for the Steelers, which is why I have them selecting Ansah 17th overall in my latest mock draft. The reason Ansah is such a great fit for the Steelers is because they don't need any immediate defensive help. They gave up the least yards in the NFL last season, so even if their core is getting old, they are by no means on the verge of becoming a weak defensive unit. Because they are currently solid, that should give Ansah the chance to take his time developing behind successful veterans. When the Steelers' core players start hanging up the cleets, Ansah will be ready to be unleashed.
In addition, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is one of the great defensive minds we've ever seen, and has a great track record with the development of defensive players. Considering the fact that Ansah needs quite a bit of coaching, he seems to be a great fit with LeBeau in Pittsburgh.
Ansah, however, is set to tear up the NFL Combine this weekend, which could cause his stock to rise quite a bit. There has been some chatter about him becoming a top-ten pick. If he impresses at the Combine the way many expect he will, the Steelers may not have a chance to draft him at 17.