Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah and Star Lotulelei were named to ProFootballFocus.com’s 2013 All-Rookie Team on Wednesday. The fifth and 14th picks in the 2013 NFL Draft made waves in their rookie seasons.
Ansah, a year removed from BYU, was named the best rookie edge rusher in the league. He recorded a rookie league-high eight sacks in 2013, despite only appearing in 14 games.
“Prior to the season we felt Ansah might get pushed around in the running game but make up for that with his ability to get pressure,” Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus wrote. “As it transpired, it was the other way around with the first-rounder doing a solid job holding his edge but being flattered by his sack numbers.”
Lotulelei, the former Ute was named the best rookie nose tackle in the league. He recorded 42 tackles and three sacks in his rookie campaign.
“(Star) was selected to stop the torrent of yards Carolina has given up between the tackles in previous seasons and in that regard he was a huge success,” Hornsby wrote.
Ansah was also awarded the Mel Farr award on Wednesday, an award given by the Detroit Lions for the best rookie on the team, according to the team website.
Ansah was voted for the award by his teammates after a stellar rookie season. He led all NFL rookies in sacks with eight total on the season, despite only playing in 14 games because of injury.
Along with the team award, Ansah was listed on Mel Kiper, Jr.’s All-Rookie team on ESPN.com.
“Ansah led all rookies in sacks, with eight, and was a bit of a surprise considering how raw he was thought to be coming out of BYU,” Michael Rothstein wrote, reporting on Kiper’s story. “But he lived up to being a first-round selection.”
Lotulelei has been praised for his play on the field this season. His efforts helped the Carolina Panthers to a first-round bye in the playoffs as well.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera called Lotulelei the “'missing piece’ as a 6-foot-2, 315-pound hole-clogger with wide shoulders, a long beard and longer hair” according to Joseph Person of TheState.com.
Lotulelei had high expectations as a first round pick. The Panthers previous two first round picks, Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly were awarded as the NFL Rookie of the Year. The Panthers host the 49ers in the second round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday.
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