Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel won the 2013 Senior Bowl MVP, but the award could have easily gone defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. The BYU product was an unstoppable force. He embarrassed the offensive linemen trying to stop him, put tons of pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, made great plays to limit the running backs to short gains (or losses) and even strip-sacked Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib.
Along with Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher, Ansah made the most money at this year's Senior Bowl. He went from being a mid- or late-first-round pick to a prospect who could easily go in the top 10. I had Ansah slotted No. 19 overall to the Giants in my most recent 2013 NFL Mock Draft, but New York will be extremely lucky if he gets there.
Ansah's new range should be considered six to 19. He could go virtually to every team, given that he fits in both the 4-3 or 3-4. Ansah played outside linebacker in BYU's 3-4, so he would obviously fit the latter scheme.
Here's a look at every team in the 6-19 range, and whether or not they make sense for Ansah:
Michael Lombardi is now calling the shots with the Browns, and he's a big proponent in building a defense starting with a pass rush. Cleveland is now running a 3-4 and needs a rush linebacker across from Jabaal Sheard. If Damontre Moore and Bjoern Werner are off the board, Lombardi could definitely consider Ansah over Barkevious Mingo or Jarvis Jones.
If the Cardinals don't like any of the quarterbacks available, they'll go with the best player on the board. Ezekiel Ansah could fit that and fill a need as well. Arizona doesn't have much of a pass rush coming from the linebacking corps.
The Bills will be going quarterback or receiver.
New York Jets
The Jets have to improve their pass rush. Because Ansah fits both the 4-3 and 3-4, he would be a great fit for Rex Ryan's hybrid scheme. The Jets have to improve their pass rush if they want to beat Tom Brady. Drafting Ansah could very well do that.
Sources have told us that the Titans will not be looking for a defensive end early in the 2013 NFL Draft.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers will be praying for Eric Fisher to fall to them. If he doesn't, they'll consider Ansah if he's available in the event that they lose Shaun Phillips to free agency. Other players are also possible, like Johnathan Hankins, who could be rated above Ansah on their board.
Ansah is a very strong option for the Dolphins. They desperately need pass-rushing help across from Cameron Wake, as they're in the same boat as the Jets. Beating Tom Brady requires putting tons of pressure on him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers desperately want Johnthan Banks. It's unlikely that they'll draft a defensive end in the first round.
The Panthers are strong at defensive end. They'll be looking at another position.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are transitioning to the 3-4 - check out this article about the four teams switching defenses this offseason - but Ansah still makes sense for them because he can play in that formation. New Orleans has to find a pass-rusher, so Ansah makes a ton of sense.
St. Louis Rams
Chris Long and Robert Quinn are the starting ends, so they won't be interested in Ansah.
Rush linebacker is one of the positions that the Steelers will be targeting in the first round, given that they need to find a successor for James Harrison. Ansah would make a ton of sense.
Anthony Spencer will be too expensive to re-sign for a cap-strapped team, so Dallas will have to find another pass-rusher across from DeMarcus Ware. Ansah could easily play left end in Monte Kiffin's 4-3.
New York Giants
The Giants already have enjoyed success with a raw pass-rusher, so why not another? Ansah isn't so raw as he is inexperienced, but the fact remains that the sky is the limit for him once he realizes his potential.