Sheldon Rankins continues to be popular pick for New Orleans Saints
Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins continues his popularity in New Orleans Saints draft talk after landing in the Big Easy in Mel Kiper’s mock again.
ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. seems to be sold on the idea of Sheldon Rankins playing for the New Orleans Saints in 2016 after mocking him to the Black and Gold again.
"12. New Orleans SaintsSheldon Rankins, DL, LouisvilleAnother one I’m not changing from the previous mock. Rankins offers as much interior quickness as you’re going to find in this draft, a class loaded with good interior defenders. More disruption from the defensive line is a recipe for a rebound for the Saints’ defense."
My analysis (as highlighted in my Sheldon Rankins draft profile):
At the collegiate level Sheldon Rankins proved that he could do it all as a defensive team captain. Whether it was attacking from the middle, rushing from the edge, or plugging the gaps, production was not hard to come by.
He’s not the biggest defensive tackle in the draft, but his strength, power, speed, and footwork 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, while granting him the capabilities to play any position along the defensive line.
There’s really not much to dislike about Sheldon Rankins. Other than his lack of ideal size, which could leave some teams in question, his tape and other traits scream excellency.
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As we all know, the New Orleans Saints have holes to fill on the defensive line, despite the Nick Fairley signing in free agency. There is potential talent already on the roster, but it isn’t guaranteed — they can’t rely on mid-late-round picks and undrafted free agents from a season ago (Tyler Davison, Bobby Richardson, etc) turning into gold. You will be a bad football team if that’s your motive. We saw that from the Saints in 2015, but they really had no choice.
Rankins is a day-one draft prospect, a top-15 type of talent. There’s a chance he doesn’t even fall to the New Orleans Saints at No. 12, but it’s also very likely he does. Between his abilities along the entire defensive front that made him productive as a bull rusher, run stuffer, and edge rusher in college, he seems to possess all the intangibles to be a perfect fit for the Saints’ defense.
New Orleans was poor against the run in 2015, and head coach Sean Payton already said a pass rusher was the team’s biggest need this offseason. Drafting Rankins could sort of kill two birds with one stone there. A line comprised of Cam Jordan, Nick Fairley, John Jenkins, and Rankins could potentially wreak havoc on opposing offenses. We’ll see how it goes when draft day arrives April 28.