Predicting the Saints 2016 rookie class production

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Aug 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; A New Orleans Saints helmet rests on the bench prior to the Saints
Aug 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; A New Orleans Saints helmet rests on the bench prior to the Saints /
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Jun 14, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (99) during the first day of minicamp sessions at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (99) during the first day of minicamp sessions at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Sheldon Rankins, Defensive tackle

Even after signing Nick Fairley in free agency, the Saints still headed into the draft knowing that defensive tackle was probably their most pressing need. So, it made perfect sense when Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton, and Jeff Ireland decided to pick Sheldon Rankins with the 12th overall pick.

With the pick of Rankins, not only did the Saints get a starting caliber defensive tackle, but also gained one that can help get some pressure on the quarterback. He finished his college career with 18 sacks and 133 tackles. That’s really impressive numbers for a guy that spent most of his time on the inside of the defensive line at Louisville, and his burst and play is something the Saints desperately need after only having 31 sacks last season.

Rankins should fit right in on the defensive line from Day One and should rotate with Nick Fairley and John Jenkins. Since the Saints are likely projected to play in a base 4-3 defense under Dennis Allen, there should be more than enough opportunities for Rankins to light up the stat sheet and show all why he was the first pick for the Saints.

Projection: 16 games played (14 starts), 6.5 sacks, 28 QB pressures, 52 tackles, 2 forced fumbles

Next: Michael Thomas

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