Photograph: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
20. Ezekiel Ansah (defensive end) – A few seasons doesn’t make a career, unless you’re Gale Sayers or Billy Sims, but let’s not hold Ezekiel Ansah’s youth against him. Though Ansah has only played 41 games, or (almost) three seasons in his NFL career, he is already firmly on the list of best Lions draft picks ever. If he continues his career trajectory, there’s no telling how high, or how far, he can go.
The Lions selected Ansah with the fifth overall pick of the 2013 NFL draft. Most everyone (fans and analysts alike) agreed that Ansah had incredible untapped potential, but pundits were divided on whether he would ever live up to his potential. He was seen by many as a risky “boom or bust” type pick.
Well, the Lions took that risk, and they must be quite happy they did. The rest of the league – not so much. Ansah has steadily improved every season of his young career, and he already has 29 sacks and 9 forced fumbles in a Lions uniform.
He currently leads the Lions with 13.5 sacks this season, and is tied for 2nd with JJ Watt (both .5 sack behind league leader Khalil Mack).
Ansah has a chance to become the first Lion to lead the NFL in sacks. Regardless, his career path appears to be on a meteoric rise and trajectory.
All the Lions (and Lions fans, players, and coaches) have to worry about is keeping Ansah healthy, happy, and in a Lions uniform. Ezekiel will take care of the rest.
Next: Number 19