Former DE/OLB Willie McGinest on Ziggy Ansah, Dion Jordan, and the “elephant position”

On NFL Network this morning, Mike Mayock asked former Pats/Browns DE/OLB Willie McGinest about guys like Dion Jordan and Ziggy Ansah, two players that have been widely discussed as potential Top 10 picks in the 2013 draft. McGinest was listed at 6’5, 270 during his playing days. Ansah is was measured this week at 6’5, 271, and Jordan was measured at 6’6, 248. I just thought this was a good job by McGinest, simplifying the roles that Ansah and Jordan could play with whatever team drafts them in April.

I think this is most relevant to the Eagles and Cowboys, who could put players like this to good use.

Mayock: “I love watching the conversion guys, the DEs that are trying to drop and move. Give me a scouting report of Ziggy Ansah and Dion Jordan.”

McGinest: “Starting with Ansah, here’s a guy who’s big, and his movement is fluid, his hips seem to be good, I heard you say he was a little tight, but he’s a guy that played with his hand in the dirt, that can kind of play that “elephant position.” I played that position coming out. I played a little bit of DE over, under I played OLB and dropped into space. (These drop drills) are important for Ziggy because we’re going to see if he can move in space, if he can get in an out of breaks, turn his hips well.

Dion Jordan is a freak. He’s explosive, he’s lighter like you said. I don’t know if I would throw 20 pounds on him, depending on what position he’s going to play in the NFL. He could play OLB, I think he’s a little too light to play a true DE position, but he can come off the edge and rush the passer because he has those pass rushing skills. He has covered TEs. He was a receiver his first two years at Oregon, so he has those ball skills that we always talk about, he understands coverages, and he’s comfortable covering guys.

These two guys look really fluid in these drills, and another guy I want to throw in there is (Illinois DE/OLB Michael) Buchanon. I don’t see him as a DE. He seems like an OLB.”

Mayock: “One term I want you to qualify… you talk about the “elephant position.” You’ve been around Pete Carroll to know where that comes from, an you’re a Trojan. Just kind of explain what that means.”

McGinest: “The ‘elephant position’ is kind of like a Charles Haley. When Pete (Carroll) came to New England I played (that role). It’s a guy that’s a little bigger, a little heavier than an OLB, but he’s a little lighter than a true DE. You put him in a position where he can take advantage of TEs and tackles and RBs. He’s a guy you can drop in space, but against a TE (as a pass rusher), it’s a mismatch. And you can have him play both – You can have him do a bunch of different things. He doesn’t come off the field. You can have him playing OLB in a 3-4 system, (and if you go) 4-3 he’s one of those guys that can put his hand in the dirt, mangle tight ends and get up the field and pass rush as well.”

Ansah ran a 4.62 40 today. Jordan ran a 4.53. Both times (unofficial) are very impressive for their size.


  1. […] nothing to the table. Nothing. When NFLN went to Willie McGinest to talk about DEs and OLBs, he was informative. When they could set aside the annoying Leon Sandcastle stuff for two seconds and Deion Sanders […]

  2. Really, really difficult to find guys like that who are fast enough, strong enough, and skilled enough to be that SAM or strong-side OLB. I am really impressed with Ziggy, the way he jumps out on tape for a guy who is just beginning to learn how to play.

  3. Steve says:

    The more I think about it, the more I like Dion for the Eagles at #4.

    1. Joe D says:

      Same…seeing as we don’t have an Elephant on our roster at all…. Who is bigger than a LB but too small for DE..but also has the length and speed?

      1. mjoedgaard says:

        Dion is NOT an elephant. He would be the SAM, we got Graham, Cole and Curry for the Elephant role

        1. Joe D says:

          I don’t trust any of those guys in space. Or to drop back… jordan could absolutely be the elephant is he bolstered some pass rushing moves. Though he could be a SAM too. Either way ALL of our line backers blow except DeMeco and his value probably goes down a lot in the 4-3 under despite what delusional Eagles fans think

          1. mjoedgaard says:

            You know that the Elephant player only drop back like 2 times per game?

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