NEW YORK — Former BYU defensive lineman Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah has never been to Detroit.
Friday morning, he was scheduled to fly to the Motor City to visit the headquarters of the Detroit Lions, who picked him in the first round, No. 5 overall, of Thursday's National Football League draft at Radio City Music Hall.
Ansah's trading in Blue and White for Blue and Silver.
The Lions are in need of a defensive end, after losing both starters from a year ago. Ansah is expected to thrive in a 4-3 defense that already boasts defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
After Detroit's selection, Suh tweeted: "From Ghana to Detroit, welcome my African brother! Lets do work!"
The Lions coaching staff is very familiar with Ansah because they coached him at the Senior Bowl in January. Ansah was named the MVP of the game.
"They know what they're getting," Ansah said. "They know what I'm capable of doing and what I need to work on."
"He's the best player available and he fills a need," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said of Ansah. "This was an opportunity where the grade matched up with the need and it worked out great for us."
It appears Ansah will have the opportunity to play immediately for the Lions.
"We drafted him to play right away," said Lions coach Jim Schwartz. "We didn't draft him to be a project."
Said Schwartz about coaching Ansah during the week of the Senior Bowl: "Well, he can play anywhere across the front. Ziggy's played nose. He's played five technique. He's played 4-I. He had never played nine before our game. It was an adjustment period for him. I mean, he didn't know very much at all in the beginning of the week. But every practice you saw him get better, and then the game came and he dominated the game."2 comments on this story
BYU AND THE FIRST ROUND: The Cougars have now had nine players selected in the first round of the NFL draft — quarterback Jim McMahon (No. 5 overall in 1982), defensive lineman Shawn Knight (No. 11, 1987), offensive lineman John Tait (No. 14, 1999), quarterback Marc Wilson (No. 15, 1980), defensive lineman Jason Buck (No. 17, 1987), linebacker Todd Shell (No. 24, 1984), offensive lineman Trevor Matich (No. 28, 1985) and linebacker Rob Morris (No. 28, 2000).
FROM GHANA, WITH LOVE: Ansah's mother, Elizabeth, said that some people in Ghana have access to ESPN and she expected some to be tuned in to the draft, even though it started at 2 a.m. in Ghana.
"People will be watching," she said.
JUST DO IT: Nike has announced that it has signed Ansah. It has also signed Oregon's Dion Jordan, Louisiana State's Barkevious Mingo, Florida State's Bjoern Werner, Mississippi State's Darius Slay and Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.