Lions: Ansah making strides
When the Detroit Lions drafted Ezekiel Ansah with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, they trusted their coaches to help an inexperienced Ansah translate his freakish athleticism into production. After a middling rookie season, Ansah is beginning to repay the Lions for valuing potential over production in the draft.
As a rookie, Ansah recorded nine sacks and 34 total pressures for an 8.1 Pass Rushing Productivity score, ranking a respectable 29th out of 46 qualifying 4-3 defensive ends. Entering the 2014 season with a shoulder injury, Ansah looked set to repeat level of production, but has raised his game in recent weeks.
Across his last five games, Ansah has recorded a +12.8 overall grade, with +5.8 of that coming as a pass rusher. Ansah’s six sacks and 25 total pressures in those five games was good for a 17.3 Pass Rushing Productivity rating, third-best among starting 4-3 defensive ends across those five weeks. Ansah has also taken a step forward in his play against the run, with this seasons 11.1 Run Stop Percentage, comparing favorably to his 7.7% score last season. Having played football for just four years, the Lions are hoping that Ansah is only starting to scratch the surface of his immense potential.