Ezekiel Ansah is more of a defensive end now, whereas Dion Jordan is a 3-4 outside linebacker, very lean, very athletic or long, has the length, the wingspan, all of that, still developing. —ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., on Ezekiel Ansah
PROVO — NFL draft guru Mel Kiper picks BYU’s Ziggy Ansah to go No. 2 in his 2013 mock draft.
Is that the kiss of death? Or is it an impressive salute to the Cougar?
Well, one could argue it is both.
Kiper has Ziggy going to Jacksonville as the second pick in the first round.
Kiper is a man who carved out a career making predictions, getting a gig on ESPN as an expert draft analyst. He gets airtime, he is often referenced, and he has almost become part of the process of draft day right up there with placing hats on heads at the podium.
He’s also been the recipient of a lot of criticism over the years. When you put yourself out there, and you are wrong, there are those in the wings who love to come out and make fun of those who try. Happens all the time.
L.A. Times commentator Chris Trapasso recently put out Kiper’s 2012 picks and listed what was actually the right call. He set up the piece saying what he’d do “if I had vampire hair and worked for the World Wide Leader.”
See what I mean?
Few will argue that Kiper, whether right or wrong in his projections, does extensive homework. He researches players, talks to coaches and athletic directors and opponents who have played against athletes in college. He also has a massive Rolodex of personnel directors, general managers and coaches in the NFL.
Kiper’s been doing this since he was 18 years old. He’s projected the top needs of every NFL team and can rattle off names and strengths of every college player who is anybody considered in the top rounds of the seven-round draft. He might be able to say something about every player drafted.
He was wrong when he gave former BYU quarterback John Walsh a high projection back in the 90s. He made an error when he said Andrew Ware would be stud in the NFL. He projected a Hall of Fame career out of his 2005 first pick, USC wide receiver Mike Williams. He projected Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman would be a bust and in 2001 he said the New England Patriots would go 0-16 and get the first pick in 2002. The Pats won the Super Bowl.
So, as one can tell, the prognostication business can be a tough job. Critics are always going to second-guess your work. But Kiper is good enough and entertaining enough spouting off facts, figures, statistics, weights, heights, 40-times and vertical jumps so fast that he’s a regular TV backstop.
Kiper says he’s never seen a meteoric rise in the NFL draft the one he is witnessing in Ansah from BYU. Literally, from a nobody last summer to a first-round pick.
That’s fair, because that is happening. He will go in the first round. But No. 2?
This past week, ESPN arranged for a teleconference with Kiper and reporters from across the land. Ziggy’s name came up in a discussion of whether Detroit would take him or Dion Jordan No. 5.
“Well, Ziggy is — Ezekiel Ansah is more of a defensive end now, whereas Dion Jordan is a 3-4 outside linebacker, very lean, very athletic or long, has the length, the wingspan, all of that, still developing. Wasn't as dominant this year as I thought he could be considering how great he finished the season two years ago.
“Yeah, I think if you look at a defensive end in the second round, Bjoern Werner from Florida State could still be there. You have to look at Tank Carradine coming off the injury. I don't know if they would want to go that route from Florida State. Or they'd want to look at a Margus Hunt, could be a 3-4 end or a 4-3 end in the right situation. I just wonder about him being a guy as a rookie can really help you as a developmental defensive end.
“So if you take Dee Milliner, then you can look at Bjoern Werner. If you take Ezekiel Ansah, then maybe you look at a cornerback in the second round and a cornerback at that point would be a Jamar Taylor from Boise State. Maybe DJ Hayden if he's there from Houston. I think he could late first, but there's a possibility DJ Hayden could be there early second. You could go defensive end corner or go corner defensive end. I think either way the Lions are in pretty good shape the way they're sitting right now.”
In that 248-word answer, Kiper mentioned eight different college players and described multiple choices for the Lions.
He really is the NFL’s king-draft nerd.
And I mean that as a compliment, he knows his stuff.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.