I've been a big fan of the Ziggy Ansah pick since the moment we made it, in large part due to how brilliantly he played in the Senior Bowl against future NFL players using the same scheme that our Lions do, but I've seen enough doubt among Lions fans regarding the pick that I felt the need to do more research on the dude and hopefully reaffirm my confidence in him.
What I found was a video, taken before the draft, of an ESPN segment on him with Kiper, McShay, Polian and Jason Taylor, and was almost taken aback by how much praise Ansah receieved from Polian. You can watch the video here (Polian starts at the 2:10 mark) but I decided to transcribe a couple of the more significant portions:
I would always ask our staff, when we got to this point, with about five days left, if this player is going to fail, tell me why he will fail. And when you look at Ziggy Ansah, is he going to fail because he doesn't have physical tools? No. Is he going to fail because he's not mentally tough? No, he made it in a new land all by himself. Is he going to fail because he's not intelligent? No, he's a statistics major. Is he going to fail because he doesn't have experience playing the game? Maybe... but, you can teach that.
All of the other things are red flags that will cause people to fail. He's not going to fail because of those things, he's going to succeed, and the likelihood of his success is pretty darn good.
The anchor then asked him about whether or not he thought Ansah's lack of experience would be a problem, and Polian responded with a resounding no:
... in the space of about six weeks, without ever having played the game before at the highest level, he learned how to defeat a double team, it takes people years to do that. He's a natural athlete. It would take a lot of courage to make this pick, you're gonna be criticized, but to me, this is a guy that has it all. Cinderella, and here's the most important thing, Cinderella is going to break the glass slipper into smithereens, this is a tough, physical, ferocious guy.
I don't know about you guys, but hearing a dude who ran an NFL team for 15 years and won a Superbowl talk about Ansah like this has me feeling pretty good about his future. Me likey.