By Ashley Scoby
@AshleyScoby

Ezekiel – “Ziggy” – Ansah joined his first football team in 2010, at BYU. Five years later, he is second in the NFL in sacks, just behind JJ Watt, who is largely considered the best defensive player of this generation. The ceiling is high for Ansah, and he has only just begun to climb the ladder up there.

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When Ansah was drafted fifth overall in 2013, the selection was based largely off raw talent. And it’s paid off, as Ansah has quickly become one of the most dynamic players on a Lions defense that desperately needed them, especially earlier in the season.

He has run through opposing offensive lines nearly at will, and embarrassed the Eagles’ line in particular last week. On Thanksgiving, Ansah got his hands on quarterback Mark Sanchez four times (but was only credited with half a sack the last time). He recovered a fumble. In short, he made Philadelphia’s lives miserable.

“One of the big things is when you look at him, the first thing you look at is we see it from a physical standpoint,” head coach Jim Caldwell said on Monday’s Karsch and Anderson show. “Believe it or not, these guys are still developing physically, and oftentimes you see they get stronger and overall things are crystallizing for them when they reach their peak in this game. And he hasn’t reached his peak yet.”

In a day and age where everything is measured, Ansah’s numbers are abnormal. He’s 6-foot-5 and 271 pounds of what is essentially pure muscle. He’s been clocked at a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash.

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According to Caldwell, Ansah has the second-lowest body fat percentage on the team, behind only cornerback Darius Slay.

“You would anticipate one of those defensive backs or wide receivers would be in that category, but to have this guy at second, at almost 280 pounds?” Caldwell said. “He’s just barely scratching the surface.”

Ansah’s physical tools are the perfect storm to frustrate offenses, and he’s shown that more and more this season. He’s accumulated 11.5 sacks, 32 tackles and four forced fumbles (two recovered).

On a Lions defense that lost defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the offseason, more than anything, Ansah is a presence that has to be accounted for.

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“He’s strong. He’s tenacious,” Caldwell said. “He can really manage it a couple different ways. He can beat you with speed; he can beat you with power. I think when you have that combination, it makes it very, very difficult for an offensive lineman to be able to anticipate what he might do.”