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BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah
by Dwayne Wilton
The 2013 NFL Combine is now in the books. We continue with our recaps of the top players at every position. Today we switch our focus to the defense and discuss defensive linemen.
The defensive line is the most important part of the defense. If you can stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback without blitzing, it opens up a lot of things for a defense. You gotta have guys that can stop the run and guys that can rush the passer. If you can get that in the same guy without having to rotate, that’s even more valuable. What teams are looking for depends on the defensive scheme. Teams that run a 4-3 defense need defensive tackles that are quick and nimble and able to shed blocks and create havoc up the middle. They also want defensive ends that might be a little bit lighter, but definitely need to be able to get off the ball and get after the passer. Teams that run a 3-4 defense are looking for different body types. The nose tackle normally needs to be a really large guy that can tie up blockers and allow the linebackers to run to the ball. The nose tackle doesn’t necessarily need to be able to rush the passer. The 3-4 defensive end is more of a long body type with long arms. They also need to be run stuffers, but if they can rush the passer then that’s a big advantage defensively. Some teams like their 3-4 defensive ends to move inside on passing downs to rush the passer.
Here’s my analysis of the defensive linemen that worked out at the 2013 Combine:
Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah-BYU (6-5 271 lbs.): Former track star with only 2 years of football experience. Extremely raw but very athletic. Very smooth runner. Bends well on pass rush drills. Took part in linebacker drills and he looked fluid with good change of direction. Ball skills could be a question, but I don’t see him dropping into coverage very often. Ran a 4.63 40 yard dash (6th best for DL) and his 10 yard split was a very fast 1.61. 4.26 short shuttle which was best among the D line. Had a very good Senior Bowl game and is moving up draft boards after this workout.
Michael Buchanan-Illinois (6-5 255 lbs.): Nice length. Good first step. Shows flexibility in pass rush drills. Ran a 4.78 40 yard dash and 6.91 3 cone drill (3rd best DL). Took part in linebacker drills and looks smooth.
Sharrif Floyd-Florida (6-3 297 lbs.): Prototypical 3 technique in a 4-3 scheme. Quick and explosive off the ball. Flips his hips well. Moves very well for a defensive tackle. Ran a 4.92 40 yard dash which is exceptional for his size. Has the ability to dominate games (just ask Florida State). Draft stock has risen to the point that he may be a top 5 pick.
Johnathan Hankins-Ohio State (6-3 320 lbs.): Likely a 3-4 nose tackle. Big and physical. Moves better than you would think for someone his size. Used his agility to play some at 3-4 defensive end. Sheds blockers well and controls the line of scrimmage. Has the strength to push blockers back into the backfield. Commands double teams. Strong at the point of attack. Had a good workout.
Margus Hunt-SMU (6-8 277 lbs.): From Astonia and only has 4 years of football experience. Former discus medal winner. Long body with long arms. Nickname is “The Eastern Block” due to his 17 blocked kicks (2 short of the NCAA record). Has good flexibility and body lean. Great feet. Ran a 4.60 40 yard dash (3rd best DL) and 38 reps on the bench press (Combine best for all players). Has the body type to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Had a very good workout.
Datone Jones-UCLA (6-4 283 lbs.): Versatile lineman that played both inside and outside. Moved inside on passing downs and was too much for most guards to handle. Explosive. Good movement skills and change of direction. Ran a 4.80 40 yard dash and 4.32 short shuttle (3rd best DL). Has good hands and sheds blocks well. Good flexibility and and agility. Looked good in the on-field drills. At his size, he could be a very disruptive 4-3 defensive tackle.
Dion Jordan-Oregon (6-6 248 lbs.): Long and lanky. Former tight end. Very athletic with good movement skills. Very smooth. Ran a 4.60 40 yard dash (tied for 3rd best DL). 10’2” broad jump (tied for 4th best DL). 4.35 short shuttle (tied for 5th best DL). Just had shoulder surgery and will be out 3-4 months, but should be ready for training camp. Took part in linebacker drills and looked really good. Ultimately I believe because of his size he will be a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Corey Lemonier-Auburn (6-3 255 lbs.): Ya gotta love Alabama. Lemonier revealed at the Combine that for 3 years the coaches and SID office had been pronouncing his name incorrectly. Has good size and long arms. Good motor. Has experience standing up and dropping into coverage. Bends well and looks good turning the corner on pass rush drills. Uses his long arms to separate from blockers. Ran a 4.60 40 yard ash (tied for 3rd best DL). Took part in linebacker drills and looked good.
Star Lotulelei-Utah (6-2 311 lbs.): Lotulelei is another of those big nose tackle guys. Sadly, he was not able to participate in on-field drills due to a heart condition that was found during the medical exams. Hopefully the condition is nothing serious and he will be able to participate at his pro day and still have an NFL career.
Barkevious Mingo-LSU (6-4 241 lbs.): Fast defender that can play upright or with his hand in the dirt. Good flexibility and extremely quick off the corner. Very athletic. Ran a 4.58 40 yard dash (2nd best DL), 37” vertical jump (2nd best DL), 10’ 8” broad jump (best among DL), 6.84 3 cone drill (best DL). The big question mark is his motor since he admitted to teams at the Combine that he didn’t go all out on every play. Looked very smooth in linebacker drills. He is likely going to be a 3-4 outside linebacker due to his size. Had a very good workout, but he still needs to explain his apparent lack of hustle.
Damontre Moore-Texas A&M (6-4 250 lbs.): Had a poor workout. Was looked upon as a top 10 pick at one point. Had an embarrassing 12 reps on the bench press which is unacceptable for someone his size. Ran a 4.95 40 on his first attempt then pulled a muscle on his second attempt and did not participate in on-field drills. Had a 35.5” vertical and 10’ 2” broad jump prior to his injury. He will be under a lot of pressure to improve on this workout when his pro day comes around. Maybe his doctor can prescribe some Allegra for that allergy to the weight room.
Sheldon Richardson-Missouri (6-2 294 lbs.): Had a good workout, but I am not as high on him as most people. I still remember him running his mouth about Georgia then getting worn out by them in the 4th quarter and tapping out. If he is allowed to use his athleticism to chase a play down, then he’s effective, but if the play comes right at him, he’s on his back. His strength is his quickness getting off the ball. He tends to play a bit high though which is what gets him in trouble in plays coming right at him. Some people say he’s a top 12 pick, but I don’t see it.
Bjoern Werner-Florida State (6-3 266 lbs.): Another foreign born player with exceptional athleticism. Coaches say he soaks things up like a sponge and gets better every day. Has good feet. Explosive. Flexible hips. Good motor. Good bull rush. Strong-bench pressed 25 reps. Able to play the run and pass. Participated in linebacker drills and looks smooth, but he may be better suited as a 4-3 defensive end.
Nick Williams-Samford (6-4 309 lbs.): Small school defensive tackle. Smooth in on-field drills and changes direction well. Has the size for a nose tackle but moved well enough to play 3 technique in a 4-3. Ran a 4.95 40 yard dash, 33” vertical jump and broad jumped 9’ 3”. Opened a few eyes with his workout.
Sylvester Williams-North Carolina (6-3 313 lbs.): Good lateral movement. Gets to full speed quickly. Likely to play nose tackle in a 3-4. Able to anchor down and take on double teams without giving ground. Good strength to overpower blockers. Has the ability to crash the A gap and create havoc in the backfield. Had a good workout, looked good in on-field drills and could be the first nose tackle drafted.
Trevardo Williams-UConn (6-1 241 lbs.): Had the fastest 40 yard dash for the D-Line (4.57), the best vertical jump (38”) and 3rd best broad jump (10’ 4”). Has an explosive lower body. Has lined up standing up and with his hand down. Moved around to take advantage of blocking mismatches. Extremely quick off the ball and he bends well on pass rush. May be too light to play defensive end, but with his speed and athleticism he is probably better suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker.