LIONS INSIDER

Martin Mayhew says comparisons between Ziggy Ansah and Jason Pierre-Paul are fair

Posted Feb 23, 2013

Both Ziggy Ansah and Jason Pierre-Paul had humble beginnings, with Pierre-Paul exploding onto the NFL scene in his second season with the New York Giants in 2011. Ansah looks to be on that same path.

INDIANAPOLIS - The comparisons are out there, fair or not, that Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah is the next Jason Pierre-Paul.

Pierre-Paul, if you remember, had a very humble beginning to his football career -- first at the College of the Canyons in California and then Fort Scott Community College before spending one year at South Florida.

Jason Pierre-Paul

Pierre-Paul was considered raw when entering the NFL Draft in 2010, but was an extremely athletic defensive end at 6-foot-5, 278 pounds, who only began playing football during his junior year of high school.

Ansah, who came to the States in 2008 from Ghana to attend BYU, only started playing football in 2010 after he failed to make the BYU basketball team. Ansah also ran track for BYU before playing football and could run the 200-meter dash in under 22 seconds. 

At 6-foot-6, 274 pounds, Ansah is the most physically gifted of all the defensive end prospects in this year's draft. He has terrific size, but will likely run just as fast as some of this year's top speed rushers when the defensive ends hit the field for workouts Monday.

It easy to see why the comparisons exist between Ansah and Pierre-Paul.

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said the comparisons are fair.

"(Ansah is) a guy who has been playing football for two years who is a freak athletically," said Mayhew. "I just think he has tremendous upside. What this guy will be able to do in three or four years … you get a guy like that and the sky's the limit."

Mayhew and the Lions had the benefit of spending an entire week with Ansah when they coached the South squad at the Senior Bowl. He was one of the games' stars, recording seven tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.

"The great thing about the Senior Bowl is really getting to see these guys in that environment. Getting to see them do what they do when they get to our building," Mayhew said. 

"You've got them for a whole week. They're training, they're practicing, they're sitting in meetings, they're asking questions, they're not asking questions. You really get a feel for who a guy is as a football player when you have them in that situation. 

"Ezekiel is one of the guys we have a good feel for."

The Lions also had the benefit of placing him at defensive end in their Wide 9 scheme for the week, watching him dominate the game from that spot.

"It was great," Ansah said Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I was allowed to stay out there and rush the passer and that was a privileged to do that."

After becoming the 15th-overall pick to the New York Giants in 2010, Pierre-Paul had 4.5 sacks as a rookie and then exploded in 2011 with 16.5.

"I put in the time to watch (Pierre –Paul) to study his style of play," Ansah said of the comparison. "Regardless of the fact that everybody is telling me I'm raw, (they're also saying) that I'm pretty good at what I'm doing."

Good enough to be a top-five pick? Good enough for the Lions at No. 5?

We'll have to stay tuned.