For a while here on the blog, our discussion revolved around this question: What would the Detroit Lions do at No. 5 overall if the following players were off the board: Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher, BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner?
Our consensus: In a bit of a reach, Oklahoma left tackle Lane Johnson would be the choice.
Now, on the morning of the draft, we're wondering if Johnson will even be an option for the Lions.
In their final mock drafts of the season, ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both have Johnson going to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 4 overall. As a result, each mock-drafted Ansah for the Lions at No. 5. Both had them passing on Milliner, and McShay even suggested they would allow Joeckel to fall in order to secure Ansah.
My experience is that public information gets less reliable as the draft approaches. Teams are making final, sometimes-manic attempts to create draft interest and leverage. But at this point, we should at least consider whether the Lions will even have an opportunity to take an elite left tackle in this draft.
Should Ansah be the pick, it would culminate one of the most rapid rises in recent NFL draft history. Here is how Ryan McGee capsulized Ansah's college career in a recent edition of ESPN The Magazine:
When Ezekiel Ansah arrived on the BYU campus in the fall of 2008, the trilingual former soccer player from Ghana had not only never played football, he'd never even seen a game on TV. He was an actuarial science major on academic scholarship. He was also 6'5" and 271 pounds, so he tried out for the Cougars' basketball team. He got cut. So he tried out again in 2009 ... and got cut again. Ansah then walked on to BYU's track team as a sprinter. But all the while, coaches and classmates kept telling him: You should try out for football.
He finally took their advice in 2010. Based on pure athletic ability, he made the team and saw his first game action midway through that season covering kicks. By 2012, Ansah was a starter at defensive end for a Cougars squad that went 8-5, nearly ended Notre Dame's winning streak in October and won the Poinsettia Bowl in December. Now Ansah is expected to become just the 11th Cougar -- and the first since 2000 -- to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Everyone has fallen for the affable kid who in three short years has progressed from someone who couldn't identify an end zone to being the best defensive end prospect in the country.