New Orleans Saints draft profiles: Clash of the Titans, Part 2

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Sheldon Rankins
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 /

Sheldon Rankins: DT, Louisville

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 299 LBS

As I mentioned earlier, Rankins, who Todd McShay mocked to the New Orleans Saints in his latest simulation, is truly the opposite of Robinson. He’s shorter, lighter, and doesn’t really possess any of the ‘ideal’ attributes of a top defensive lineman. Rankins has less than ideal height, weight, arm length, and power, and yet he is still in consideration to be a top pick in this year’s draft. The question that likely comes to anyone’s mind who doesn’t know him very well — why?

While Sheldon Rankins doesn’t have ideal size, he does have one incredibly valuable attribute, the ability to get interior penetration. The reality is that measurables only count for so much, and at the end of the day, tape trumps all. That is why Rankins is still in consideration to be a top defensive lineman even in a loaded draft like this one.

Rankins may not be tall, but he has incredible lower body strength and balance. He’s able to fire off from the line with suddenness, and his active hands and relentless motor both contribute to him being a very consistent penetrator.

He never has been, and never will be, a dominating run defender. But what Rankins lacks in size, he more than makes up for in quickness and with his ‘pit-bull’ play style. Rankins’ non-stop motor and great balance have allowed him to make plays consistently even when the play didn’t initially start in his favor, and that quality will lead him to have success at the NFL level as well. What he will need is to play next to a big space eater and to have linebackers behind him who are sure tacklers.

Rankins is actually a very good fit for what the New Orleans Saints need, as I like the idea of lining him up next to John Jenkins a great deal. Rankins’ motor certainly wouldn’t be a bad influence on Big John Jenkins, but more than that his ability to get into the opponent’s backfield is what brings the greatest appeal. It’s a rare skill in the NFL and one of the most value. While I don’t think his ceiling is as high as them, the fact is that the two teams in the Super Bowl employed either Kawann Short or Malik Jackson.

So, with that all said…who wins the Battle of the Titans?

Next: And the winner is...