Although the New Orleans Saints were tempted with appealing prospects like Myles Jack and Shaq Lawon at No. 12 overall, the team made the right choice by taking Louisville’s Sheldon Rankins.
The Saints showed interest in the defensive tackle back at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, but hadn’t had any contact since February. Clearly, Rankins made an impression and checked off all the boxes that Sean Payton’s crew was looking for.
“We are fired up about our selection. (Sheldon Rankins) He is someone (we liked) just through the process, the senior bowl and (his) college career. We have a good relationship with the coaching staff there and it’s an area that we feel like we can help our defense significantly. He is a guy that we would check off as a pressure player. He gives you a pass rush ability from the inside and you see that quite a bit on tape. (His) Makeup is fantastic and it’s nice that he was a former Falcons fan,” Sean Payton said during his media interview on Thursday night.
The biggest themes I see with Rankins is how humble and focused he is, and how excited he is about his new opportunity. He’s a player that is clearly hungry, and wants to make the most of his opportunity.
“It is exciting to come to a team, period. Growing up with this dream to play in the NFL, and then being selected as high as I was, or just being selected at all was a dream come true (for me). Being able to come to any team is a dream come true. Obviously, if they need me to contribute early, I’ll be looking to come in and help in any way that I can,” Rankins told the media during his Thursday night conference call.
Rankins, who has the potential to become an extremely disruptive force on the interior with Nick Fairley, John Jenkins, and Tyeler Davison. However, he’s just happy to be able to contribute when and where the Saints need him.
“I don’t know any specifics on what they want me to do or anything like that. They’re going to get a hard worker and someone who is going to come, try to pick up the defense, and try to gain the trust of the veterans and the guys that have been busting their butts in that locker room. Then, we’ll go from there,” Rankins said.
Rankins chose not to attend to the draft to share the experience with his big family in Covington, Georgia. He comes from a family of hard workers, which is where he attributes much of his success from. Growing up an Atlanta Falcons fan, Rankins admitted that some of his family members made the choice to trade in the black and red for black and gold.