When it comes to scouting FCS talent, the prospects have to jump off the screen. Their level of competition on a week in, week out basis simply doesn’t compare to the prospects who are playing in the Power 5 conferences. A player coming from that level needs sustained success and stretches of sheer dominance to be considered for a spot in the NFL. The CAA Defensive Player of the Year, fifth year senior outside linebacker Andrew Ankrah from James Madison, fits that mold. The talent, production, and physical upside boxes are all checked and the icing on the cake is a set of top notch intangibles. He is a favorite of teammates and coaches alike.
What He Does Well:
Ankrah’s breakout season was 2015, a 2nd-team All-America performance. There, he showed his ability to explode off the edge with a low center of gravity and easy agility. What has developed enormously since then are his techniques when it comes to his hands and feet working together. Ankrah has very long arms and big hands and he knows how to use them. He prevents blockers from locking on so that even when it looks like he is initially beat, he can free himself of contact and make the secondary effort. Ankrah can plant his foot and burst with all of his power and strength. He doesn’t have to give up one for the other. He pursues hard and knows how to finish.
Where He Needs Work:
He is a long term project who is in need of a professional strength and conditioning program. He has a hard time keeping his ground against straight ahead run blockers, and this is against linemen who will not be nearly good enough to play in the NFL. Ankrah also needs more versatility as a pass rusher when it comes to initial moves. There isn’t enough physical presence with his contact, as he simply relies on his speed being at a different level than the FCS opponents.