The Detroit Lions took defensive end Ezekiel Ansah with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. That's great, but what does it mean for the franchise? Read on to find out.
How Ansah Fits with the Lions Defense
The Lions employ the Wide 9 scheme defensively, meaning the end lines up outside the tackle, fires off the line and looks to get up the field on every play.
And that's exactly what Ansah was born to do. He has a great burst off the line to match his incredible lateral quickness (4.26 20-yard shuttle), so the system will employ his best traits on every play.
In a fortunate turn of events, he'll get to line up outside of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. It's hard to imagine a better scenario for either the franchise or the player, as there will be little to obstruct his path to the quarterback. It'll just be Ansah and the offensive tackle, a matchup that should bring a smile to the newest Lion's face.
Additionally, the scheme will help hide his lack of experience. While he will have a few other responsibilities, his foremost assignment will be to advance quickly up the field to cause havoc in the backfield. That simplifies a game that Ansah is still learning, making his transition to the NFL much easier.
Granted, it's not all a bed of roses. Ansah must develop more complex pass-rushing moves that build upon his staggering natural ability. However, it's hard to find a better marriage of talent and system.
Does Ansah Fill a Need?
After a 4-12 season, it's obvious that the Lions had plenty of holes. For instance, they needed at least one offensive tackle and a cornerback, but this team sorely needed defensive line help—you know, since that's the fulcrum of Jim Schwartz's football philosophy and all. Schwartz loves having an attacking defensive line that eases the burden on the rest of the defense.
Detroit did bring in defensive end Jason Jones, but that only filled one of the spots vacated by Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Grabbing Ansah with his Jason Pierre-Paul-like ceiling was a smart move that helps the Lions re-establish their identity as a team that gets after the passer.
What Does This Mean for the Lions Moving Forward?
This move doesn't preclude Detroit from drafting another defensive lineman or two. Much of the Lions' depth has dissipated over the past couple of years, with the defections of Vanden Bosch, Avril, Lawrence Jackson, Sammie Lee Hill and others.
However, it does move the D-line down the ladder in terms of priority. The starting lineup is set, so Detroit can feel free to find that starting cornerback or tackle now.
Lastly, assuming the Lions can keep Suh and Fairley around, Detroit will soon boast one of the most explosive defensive lines in the league—and for a long time.