Is Ezekiel Ansah Too Old For The Steelers To Draft?

BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is a player that several people have the Pittsburgh Steelers taking in the first round of the 2013 draft in their mock drafts. In fact, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper even has him as the Steelers first round selection in his latest 2.0 mock draft.

Ansah, who only started playing football in 2010, is already 23 years old according to Kiper, and while his birth date is unconfirmed, we think that he will be 8733 days old come draft day. Why is that so important? Well, if the Steelers do wind up selecting him he would be the oldest player that general manager Kevin Colbert has ever drafted in the first round since taking over in 2000.

As it stands right now, Casey Hampton is the oldest player the Steelers have ever drafted in the first round and that was way back in 2001. On that particular draft day Hampton was 8632 days old. Ansah, if the above number is indeed correct, would be 101 days older then even Hampton was.

Sure, Ansah might have less football wear and tear on him being as he took up the game so late in life, but if indeed he were to be drafted by the Steelers with the intent of him playing outside linebacker, you would have to figure that he wouldn\’t see the field on the defensive side of the ball until his second season at the earliest. The same would go if the Steelers intended on converting him to a 3-4 defensive end instead, which I don\’t see happening.

The Steelers generally like to draft underclassmen types in round one. The younger the better in their eyes, so it would really go against the grain if they drafted Ansah, especially considering that he is not a plug and play candidate in his rookie season.

Below is a list of the Steelers first round draft picks dating back to 2000 along with their ages.

2000Plaxico Burress8/12/774/15/200022 years, 8 months, 4 days8283
2001Casey Hampton9/3/774/21/200123 years, 7 months, 19 days8632
2002Kendall Simmons3/11/794/20/200223 years, 1 month, 10 days8442
2003Troy Polamalu4/19/814/26/200322 years, 8 days8043
2004Ben Roethlisberger3/2/824/24/200422 years, 1 month, 23 days8090
2005Heath Miller10/22/824/23/200522 years, 6 months, 2 days8220
2006Santonio Holmes3/3/844/29/200622 years, 1 month, 27 days8093
2007Lawrence Timmons5/14/864/28/200720 years, 11 months, 15 days7655
2008Rashard Mendenhall6/19/874/26/200820 years, 10 months, 8 days7618
2009Ziggy Hood2/16/874/25/200922 years, 2 months, 10 days8105
2010Maurkice Pouncey7/24/894/22/201020 years, 8 months, 30 days7578
2011Cameron Heyward5/6/894/28/201121 years, 11 months, 23 days8028
2012David Decastro1/11/904/26/201222 years, 3 months, 16 days8142

  • steeltown

    No, I dont think that will have too much effect on their decision. I think it would be discussed of course, but if they feel he is the type of prospect they need, then age shouldnt matter to much.. it’s not like he’ll be 27yrs old or 28yrs like Wheeden was when drafted. I would have no problem drafting a near 24yr old, especially if, like mentioned above, he does not have to much Football wear and tear

    On a side note.. damn that’s a pretty good list of 1st Rd picks! …great talent

  • Cody Younkin

    I wouldnt say that he’s too old, well maybe for the steelers system because they love to cling onto their veterans so much that he wouldnt start until hes 27… I’d be more worried about his size, 270 at OLB?? he would need to drop 20 lbs. Either way I wouldnt draft him. Trade down and get a saftey.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    i think it weighs out evenly, 3 years of football but 23 years old(no wear and tear) VS. a whole life of football and being 20-22 years old(lot of wear and tear)

  • HarryBackside

    Is he young enough to play out his rookie contract and his first FA contract? If so, that’s all that really matters.

  • zyzak

    Maybe if the Steelers could get him in the lineup th first year it would help. Other teams do it, time for a change in how they train their players.

  • Getitout

    Hell with his age on draft day. We need to start worrying about character issues of our draft picks. I’ll take a 8733 day old player with no character issues over a 150 day old who has drug or domestic issues any day.

  • steeltown

    Most OLB’s in a 3-4 Defense are 255-270lbs

  • HarryBackside

    He is bit, but he moves very well for his size. All that matters is if he’s faster, and has better change of direction than Harrison. The answer to that is “yes”.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Other teams don’t have the Steelers defense.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Not all that matters but certainly helps

  • dgh57

    Not only is he 23 years old but his birth date is unconfirmed! Being from Ghana that very well could be! The NFL Draft Profile under weaknesses is not very encouraging. It says he suffers from STAMINA ISSUES!! It says he tried out for basketball and track and FAILED. Duh!!! Could it be because of STAMINA ISSUES?!!!! Oh, by the way his middle name is “Ziggy” Then in the same profile he is compared to Justin Tuck!!!! Come on someone with issues with stamina compared to Justin Tuck! I will pass on this guy and hope the Steelers do too!!

  • Garrett Hunt

    Most people seem to hope we don’t take him at 17, but I wouldn’t mind it. He seems to have good instincts even though he has only been playing 3 years. That combined with his freakish athleticism seem like tools Dick LeBeau and Keith Butler can really work with. He has skill to make an immediate impact (taking some snaps for the aging Harrison and on special teams) and propensity to improve to become a strength of our defense eventually.

  • smiles412p

    ive been debating with my friends on who we should draft this year and like a lot of the safety prospects ive been hearing wr from people and to me I believe hines ward could’ve of played one more year on a veteran minimum he was what our offense was missing all year he was and I still believe is a bring your lunch pal to work student of the game he was bens safety valve and a key component in our run game bc he could block better than most wr in the league I remember watching his retirement speech and him sayin I still got one more year. we need to draft a class act like hines who has a high motor and who can become a leader on our beloved franchise.

  • Chris92021

    If he can bring pressure on the QBs for the next 8-10 years, no one will care about his age on draft day.

    Less than 3 years of football also means he’s not exactly set in his ways and he has little to no bad habits to break.

  • Andrew Grigsby

    I just feel like the other options will be better than Ansah when the Steelers pick. It has nothing to do with his age just a better fit player wise. I really like the safety guys in the 1st round like Elam (Florida) or Vaccaro (Texas). I would love to see Jones from Georgia fall to Pittsburgh @ 17 but that won’t happen. Plus i worry about his work ethic

  • mghjr88

    Do you guys like him at outside linebacker or at defensive end as Mel Kiper is suggesting?
    I personally could see how he could play either positions but feel he may be more suited to playing end in the 3-4

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Age doesnt matter here…just do not like him. 🙂

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    No offense but I don’t believe you know what you’re talking about on this particular issue. “Could” “Might” “May”. Why don’t you actually watch some video or do some valid research before posting? Look at Tyson’s post in the yellow section above. That should give you a good start.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    That’s like saying don’t draft LeBron James because he’s too “big” to be a guard. Or let’s make LeBron lose 20 pounds so he can be the same size of other less talented guards, so that he can fit in better. The fact that LeBron is bigger and stronger than most guards and can still move faster than them and jump higher than them is a GOOD thing.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Ansah is a very unique prospect in that he doesn’t have to be just a 4-3 DE or just a 3-4 DE or just a 3-4 OLB. He has the ability to play multiple positions and play them well. One of the reasons Troy is so dominate is his ability to play like a LB or a S or even a CB. He lines up in different spots so opposing offenses have trouble reading him. One of the key components to the zone blitz (which LeBeau basically invented) is have a D-Lineman drop back into coverage like a LB. Ansah has that skill set. Another component is the stunt blitz to free up LBs. Ansah has experience lining up at all of the DL positions. Another component is to have OLBs that can run down RBs or WR if the flat. Ansah does that well. The Steelers have a history of drafting athletes then “finding” a spot for them to play. We drafted a DE (Woodley) and taught him to play LOLB. We drafted a 4-3 DE (Worilds) and taught him to play ROLB. We drafted a 4-3 DT (Hood) and taught him to play 3-4 DE. We draft a 4-3 OLB (Timmons) and teach him to play 3-4 RILB. And some people think we can’t find a spot for Ansah?

  • SteelSpine

    Now we need to get an OLB who will not need more than one year; one who we predict the odds are the draftpick will start being an impact player in the first regular season of his second year. Gonna require a high pick, rds 1-3.

  • SteelSpine

    Obviously it’s rediculous to think 23 is too old to draft, to even wonder about it even considering requiring a year to learn NFL. OK Steelers have preferred to draft underclassmen in the first round. Mendenhall was an underclassman, How’d that work out?

    Most teams do not rule out drafting any 23 yr old. That’s because NFL has free agency: There is no guarantee a draftee will stay with their drafted team after their contract is up. (Except franchise tag 1 player if team uses it.) Those teams know upfront the fact is many player’s aren’t forever with their original NFL team, for either of the usual reasons: Average lifespan in NFL (injuries or not enough talent), or because if they stink they aren’t re-signed by same team, or if they’re good enough they get their higher money via higher offer elsewhere in NFL aka Keenan & Wallace.

  • Clint Martin

    They aren’t drafting Ansah! He is a 4-3 DE not 3-4 and he isn’t capable of standing up and playing Outside at the NFL level this would be a huge mistake. Which I know they aren’t even considering making.

  • SteelSpine

    But to allow 3 yrs for draftee to determine if draftee will be decent at a position on defense, is too extreme. Examples:
    – Mundy: The reason he was allowed 3 yrs to learn, is he used that time to learn our defense. He learned it, that’s why last offseason LeBeau’s plan was to start Mundy, since knew Clark couldn’t play in Denver & because of Troy’s uncertain health for throughout the reg season. I believe Mundy knew the defense because he was in right position each time, only to then get juked & burned for TDs. No reason to tie up a roster position for that for 3 years because we had already seen him in previous years on special teams get juked & chasing people into endzones.
    – Ziggy was the lowest rated 3-4 DE in NFL for the past 2 seasons. That’s comparing him to other 3-4 DEs, by respected quoted pro football writers. In a 3-4, coulda used a later round pick or FA to get that same result. Our defense was tops, but couldn’t we have gotten what we did outta Ziggy with a later round pick or FA. Instead we give him a pass for his first 2 years. Will Ziggy suddenly this next season require 2 blockers to tie him up? Maybe but don’t know because we haven’t seen it yet.
    – There are more examples. Sure some players do suddenly become good in their 3rd year after having been zilch. But 3 years automatic pass is too long.

  • Clint Martin

    This kid isn’t playing against SEC teams or Big Ten. He still did not produce good numbers 4.5 sacks in his college career. His lack of football knowledge is going to hurt him and the speed of the game mentally he will be lost. I don’t care about his age He is 3-4 years away from playing good NFL ball. You don’t draft someone in the 1st round that is that rough.

    I have watched film First off he isn’t capable to play in a 3-4 defense period. He is a 4-3 DE If we convert this year for our base defense,ok then but not first round.I watched him play San Diego State Big Deal.The talent against them is not there.How many players do they have going pro?
    I want the guy that does it against the toughest talent week in week out.

  • SteelSpine

    This is funny, I busted out laughing throughout it. No thumbs down from me, some readers of it should loosen up.

  • Clint Martin

    You have no clue what you are talking about.The Steelers actually draft DE from college and convert them for Outside backers. Lebron James like Ansah would get tossed around due to their size to tall to stand up.

  • kev4heels

    who cares if he is 23. the guy is going to be a monster. if we pass on him, we will regret it 2-3 years down the road. i also disagree with the notion that Ansah can’t play standing up at 34OLB. the guy is very athletic and will be a stud in the pros.

  • Clint Martin

    He has got to get up to 300 lbs to play DE in a 3-4

  • Garrett Hunt

    I agree that their are disadvantages to this approach, but advantages as well. After all, is there another defense you would rather have over the past 10 years? Not me. By grooming players to learn the intricacies of the complex defense allows consistant, productive team defense. Also I wouldn’t call it an automatic pass by a long shot either. Either you show up and work, or are replaced.

    Also, I agree Mundy has shown weakness and am not much of a fan of his. However, he was being groomed as a back-up safety not a starter. And while he didn’t play great, it could have been much worse as well. At least he WAS in position due to training which helped the rest of the defense take care of their assignment. Keeping players in the system also builds depth as well, as it was very fortunate we had not only him, but Will Allen to come in as well.

    Are you going to hit with every player you keep in the system? No. But that is the nature of the NFL, and at the end of the day I cannot argue with the players they have held on to and the successes they have had. No system is perfect, you just have to manage your trade-offs.

  • dgh57

    Yes, I’m a person who is desperate for a solid draft so when I read this profile I got kinda carried away!!

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    You make some interesting points. The lack of elite competition is a tricky one. No doubt BYU’s schedule was weak and his coaching was poor. But when Ansah played in the Senior Bowl (against the best competition in the country, apples to apples), he not only produced the best stats of any defensive player on the field (tackles, TFLs, strip, sacks, FF, tipped balls), he also looked faster and stronger than the SEC guys. So what does that mean? Did he just get a one day magic pill for football understanding and speed of the game?

    I believe Ansah’s ideal position in the NFL would be a 4-3 LDE but to say he “isn’t capable” of playing 3-4 DE sounds a bit ludicrous to me? What is that based on? His stats? Star Lotulelei only averaged 32 tackles/year and 2 sacks/year over his three year college career. Is he not a top 5 pick? Of course he is. He just got double teamed almost every play (like Ansah). 3-4 DL are not stat guys. They are there to draw double teams, shed, and tackle. That’s pretty much Ansah’s specialty. My personal opinion is he would be best at OLB. Ansah is very similar in measurements and speed to Aldon Smith. I think he could produce very well as a pass rusher, mis-matched on TE’s and RB’s.

    I prefer to grade players individually rather than how many of their teammates are going pro. In fact the more all stars you have on your team, typically the harder it is to tell your actual abilities because your all star teammates are creating open lanes.

    I currently live in SLC. I’ve met Ansah. I’ve seen him play and train live in person. (I doubt you have.) Multiple players on the team have told me that the Steelers scouts have come out to evaluate Ansah (specifically) on a couple different occasions. You are entitled to your opinion but I believe the Steelers organization views Ansah differently than you do.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Do you read? Look at the posts by steeltown and Cody. They are talking about OLB. That was the basis of my whole LeBron comment. (PS – in case you missed it, I’m not talking about LeBron playing guard in football I’m talking about him playing guard in basketball). You don’t tell a guy to lose weight if he’s just as fast at a higher weight. LeBron never bets tossed around by NBA guards. And if you think 270 pound OLB will get tossed around in the NFL, you must not watch much football.

    Let me be clear, I feel Ansah would be a better OLB than a 3-4 DE. But I do believe he could play a little DE especially on passing downs where he doesn’t have to anchor. I saw in another post where you commented 3-4 DE’s must weigh 300 pounds. Aaron Smith (arguably our best DE ever) measured 6’5″ 279 pounds at the combine. Would you like to revise your statement?

  • Alan Felicia

    Don’t forget to include Keenan Lewis – drafted in 2009 but didn’t start until 2012 Season.

  • mghjr88

    While I agree that he’ll need to get bigger, I disagree that weighing 300lbs is a prerequisite for playing defensive end in a 3-4.

    I think its typical to see a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme weigh anywhere between 280-315lbs with the majority of those players residing in the 290-300lbs category.

    Some players that come to mind at 280-285lbs are Brett Keisel, Antonio Smith and even Steve McLendon when he first joined the Steelers.

  • Clint Martin

    I would not like to revise my statement. At the combine he weighed in at 279 4th round draft pick in 1999 draft, but didn’t play till 2000. By 2000 when he was playing he weighed 300 boo yahh

  • Clint Martin

    Thanks for the info lets face it I just don’t want this kid in the first round.

  • Clint Martin

    Good response Bro I am aware 3-4 DL responsibilities He is 6’6″ 270lb great size for a 4-3 DE don’t you think? Playing NFL is a hell of alot different than shining in a bowl game Bro.

  • Clint Martin

    Smith weighed 300 by his second year.When he started hitting the field.

  • mghjr88

    You must be referring to former Steeler Aaron Smith. I am referring to Antonio Smith of the Texans.

    I agree. Ansah may have a high ceiling, but I don’t think the Steelers would take him at 17. I don’t particularly like that he is a raw player with no real position from Ghana with very minimal football experience and an unconfirmed birth date. A lot of question marks with him.

  • RW

    Ansah is going to be amazing. I don’t see why we wouldn’t take him at 17 given his versatility, as you mentioned.