Ansah Could Be Highest BYU Draft Pick Ever
Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah didn’t know how to put his pads on three years ago. On Thursday, he could become the highest NFL draft pick in program history.
Not only is he a lock to be selected in the first round of this week’s draft, he’s been slotted by many draft prognosticators to go to the Detroit Lions with the fifth overall pick.
If that happens, Ziggy would tie Jim McMahon as the highest draft pick in BYU history.
However, there are some draft gurus who think that Ansah could go higher than No. 5. In fact, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has him going to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the second overall pick.
In the history of the program, the Cougars have had eight first-round picks in the draft. Marc Wilson was the first BYU player to ever be taken in the first round when he was selected 12th overall by the Oakland Raiders in 1980.
The last Cougar to hear his named called in the first round was Rob Morris, who was taken with the 28th pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 2000. Here’s a look at the eight former BYU players who have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
McMahon set 75 NCAA offensive and passing records during his career in Provo. He led the Cougars to bowl victories as a junior and senior, including the famous “Miracle Bowl” win over SMU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl. He finished his career with a pass efficiency rating of 159.6 and won both the Davey O’Brien Trophy and Sammy Baugh Award as a senior.
As a pro, he led the Bears to a dominating 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. During his NFL career he passed for 18,148 yards and 100 touchdowns while playing 14 seasons with Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Arizona and Green Bay.
Knight was an All-WAC defensive lineman who teamed with Jason Buck to create one of the best defensive lines in BYU history in 1986. He was named first-team All-WAC as a senior and ended up being selected six picks ahead of Buck in the 1987 draft.
He was named to the 1987 NFL All-Rookie team, but ended up playing just three seasons in the league for the Saints, Cardinals and Vikings. Shaun often shows up on the list of the biggest NFL draft busts of all time. After his playing career ended he opened a physical therapy practice in Park City.
Tait entered the 1999 draft after his junior season at BYU. He has the distinction of being the highest drafted returned missionary in Cougar history. He was named as a Freshman All-American at left tackle and anchored the offensive line on the 1996 team that went 14-1 and won the 1997 Cotton Bowl. He was named first-team All-WAC as a sophomore and junior.
He played 10 seasons in the NFL, five in Kansas City and five with the Chicago Bears. He started 139 of his 148 games as a pro. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2001 while playing for the Chiefs, and again in 2006 with the Bears.
Wilson was named as the program’s first consensus first-team All-American in 1979 after passing for 3,720 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also won the Sammy Baugh Award that season. During his BYU career, Marc threw for 7,637 yards and 61 touchdowns.
He played 10 years in the NFL, seven of those with the Raiders, where he earned Super Bowl rings in 1981 and 1984 as the back-up quarterback. In 1985, Wilson led the Raiders to the AFC West championship. He finished his pro career with 14,391 yards and 86 touchdowns.
Buck won the Outland Trophy at BYU in 1986 as the nation’s top interior lineman and was tabbed as a first-team All-American at defensive end. He was also twice named as a first-team All-WAC performer. Prior to his career at BYU he was tabbed as the national Junior College Defensive Player of the Year at Ricks College.
Jason played seven seasons in the NFL with Cincinnati and Washington. He was a starter on the defensive line for the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII and won Super Bowl XVI in 1992 as a member of the Redskins.
Shell started three seasons at outside linebacker during his career at BYU and was named as an All-WAC performer during both his junior and senior seasons. During his four seasons as a Cougar, BYU won 42 of 50 games.
Shell played four seasons with the 49ers from 1984 to 1987, winning a Super Bowl ring in 1985. After his playing career, he went into coaching and eventually became the head coach of the New York Dragons and Arizona Rattlers in the Arena Football League.
Matich was the starting center on BYU’s 1984 national championship team that finished the season 13-0. He was tabbed as an AP All-American and first-team All-WAC performer as a senior. He anchored an offense that averaged 36 points and 487 yards per game during his senior season.
Trevor played 12 seasons as a center and deep snapper in the NFL, including the first four years with the Patriots. He also played for the Lions, Colts, Jets and Redskins. Today he works as a college football analyst for ESPN and serves as a studio analyst for the Washington Redskins.
The “Freight Train” was one of the hardest hitting players in BYU history. He was named as a first-team All-American as a senior in 1999 and was a finalist for the Butkus Award. He was also named as a first-team all-conference player as a junior and senior.
Rob played eight seasons in the NFL, all with the Colts. He started at middle linebacker for Indianapolis for the first five years of his career, and was the team’s leading tackler on special teams during the 2006 season. He was a starter in the Colts win over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI following the 2006 season. His career was cut short by a knee injury in 2007.
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