Sheldon Rankins becoming a popular name in Saints draft talk

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Oct 24, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Boston College Eagles quarterback Jeff Smith (5) scrambles away from Louisville Cardinals defensive end Sheldon Rankins (98) during the second half at Papa John
Oct 24, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Boston College Eagles quarterback Jeff Smith (5) scrambles away from Louisville Cardinals defensive end Sheldon Rankins (98) during the second half at Papa John /
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Sheldon Rankins is becoming a popular selection with the No. 12 overall pick in numerous New Orleans Saints mock drafts.

The New Orleans Saints are currently set to pick at the 12th spot in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft.  Former Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins has been in recent discussions, and for good reason — he’s a great fit.

Rankins landed in New Orleans in ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft.  According to The Times-Picayune, Kiper said Rankins would be a ‘great addition’ to the Saints’ defense.

“I want to see what the knee injury is,” Kiper said. “He (Rankins) had it at Louisville at the beginning of the year and had it at the Senior Bowl. The knee, to see how that checks out, will determine if he’s in that mix at 12.

“Based on the way he played down in Mobile and based on the way he played at Louisville, remember last two years he got after the quarterback and he did it on a pretty regular basis.

“He’s got some scheme versatility. I want to see how that knee checks out. … If that knee checks out fine with the he played (at Louisville) and the way he played in Mobile, he’s way up there. Certainly in the top 15 and I have him going at 12 to New Orleans.

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“Some have him at 10 to the Giants. I think 12 to New Orleans for a team that desperately needs help up front, I think he would be a great addition.”

When Kiper mocked Sheldon Rankins to the Saints, he gave this analysis:

"The Saints are in the midst of a rebuild on the defensive side of the ball, and Rankins can be unblockable when he’s at his best, with exceptional quickness and the ability to make plays in the backfield from the interior. A stellar week at the Senior Bowl secured his place in the top half of Round 1."

At the collegiate level, Sheldon Rankins proved that he could do it all.  Whether it was attacking from the middle, rushing from the edge, or plugging the gaps, production was not hard to come by.

At 6-foot-1, 304 pounds, he’s not the biggest defensive tackle in the draft, but his strength, power and quick feet off the snap outweigh it.  He’s a hardworking, ‘all-over-the-field’ kind of player, attacking ball carriers any chance he gets.

His versatility and flexibility make him a perfect fit for virtually any scheme, including the New Orleans Saints, where he could find success along the entire defensive front.

Next: 10 defensive linemen for Saints to eye at combine

Sheldon Rankins also landed with the Saints in Big Easy Beliver’s pre-scouting combine mock draft last week.  On Monday, NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks had the same idea, and it’s certainly not a bad one.  This is a very special athlete who could be a day-one contributor.  The scouting combine kicks off this week — keep an eye on Rankins and that knee.

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