LIONS INSIDER

Greg Cosell evaluates the Lions top picks: Ziggy Ansah, Darius Slay and Larry Warford

Posted May 9, 2013

Detroitlions.com lead writer Tim Twentyman asked NFL talent evaluator Greg Cosell to weigh in on the Detroit Lions' top three draft picks of 2013

Greg Cosell is one of the most respected talent evaluators in the NFL.

The time he spends watching tape of college and professional players for NFL Films might rival that of NFL coaches and scouts.

So, with the 2013 NFL Draft now in the books, I asked Cosell to break down the Detroit Lions' top three picks: defensive end Ziggy Ansah, cornerback Darius Slay and guard Larry Warford.

Starting with Ansah, Cosell said the thing that jumped out at him right away when he put on the game film was his athleticism.

"I think he has natural athleticism and movement that you can't teach," he told me. "I think when people see that, they feel they can teach him the rest.

"He's a guy that can kind of torque his body in multiple ways. He's really flexible. He's really athletic. He can get skinny."

Ansah only started nine games at BYU, so Cosell admits that's there is an element of gamble associated with the pick.

"You didn't see a ton of him as a pure pass rusher at BYU because they moved him around so much," Cosell said. "So you're relying on a little bit of a leap of faith here that you can line him up wide and he can be a dynamic edge rusher.

"But his body flexibility and movement and natural athleticism certainly suggests that he can, but there's an element of trust and a leap of faith."

The Lions had the benefit, of course, of coaching Ansah at the Senior Bowl and seeing firsthand how he fit into their scheme for the entire week. Then they watched him dominate in the game from the Wide-9 position.

"I'm not so interested in how many games a guy plays as to what his attributes are (and) how those attributes may or may not translate to the NFL," Cosell said.

"Would you love to see a guy play three or four years? Sure. I'm looking at traits and attributes, and in Ziggy Ansah, I see those athletic traits that not many people have."

Former Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay, who was invited to New York by the NFL for the draft in anticipation that he'd be a first-round pick, fell to the Lions in the second round with the No. 36-overall pick.

"I think this kid has a chance to be a really, really good NFL corner," Cosell said. "He's really athletic. He can play press. He can play off. He can run. He's very smooth. He's got quick hips. Very good transition. As a player, I really, really like Darius Slay."

Cosell said he liked Slay more than he did his Mississippi State teammate and Jim Thorpe Award winner Johnthan Banks, who was drafted seven spots after Slay by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Lions filled a very big need along their offensive line at the top portion of the third round (No. 65) when they took former Kentucky guard Larry Warford.

Warford is expected to compete right away for the starting right guard spot, which Cosell also anticipates after watching him on tape.

"When I finished watching Warford, I thought he was the kind of guy that'll play guard for eight to ten years and be a very good player," Cosell said. "He's not necessarily flashy, but he's strong. He has a very strong base and very strong legs and thighs.

"To me, he's capable of pulling, but he's more of what I would call a 'base' guard. A powerfully built, moving-type player. I think this is one of those picks that's not sexy, but, again, it's the third round and it's the 65th pick. I think it's a very solid pick and this guy will be a starter, probably from Day 1, and you won't have to worry about him."

Warford started three consecutive years against SEC competition, which Cosell took into consideration when he evaluated Warford in the pre-draft process.

"When you do get to see a guy against quality players who will be drafted high, yes, then you absolutely factor it in," he said.

"When you watch Ziggy Ansah, he's not necessarily playing against top picks, so you look for the attributes and the traits.

"When Larry Warford is playing against John Jenkins of Georgia, you factor that in. When you watch Larry Warford play those kinds of players, sure, you factor that in, but you also try to get a feel for the traits."

You can follow Cosell on Twitter @GregCosell.