Sheldon Rankins has struggled throughout this career, but he still breaks the top-15 Saints in our updated player rankings.
At one point or another after getting drafted 12th overall back in 2016, Saints’ Sheldon Rankins broke a mirror. Or spilled salt. Or had some sort of nefarious interaction with a black cat.
He must’ve done something, because few defensive stars anywhere in the league have had to deal with the level of bad luck that the Georgia native has.
After being drafted in the first round by the Saints, Rankins didn’t even make it through his first training camp without breaking his fibula, an injury that called for at least six weeks’ recovery time. He was able to return in Week 9 of his rookie year, in time to impress fans with four sacks and a forced fumble.
Rankins was able to stay healthy throughout the 2017 season, when he helped Dennis Allen and Cam Jordan turn the Saints into a top-10 scoring defense.
He finished second on the team in sacks, and carried his newfound momentum into 2018, his peak moment arguably coming when he stripped JuJu Smith-Schuster late in the season to help the Saints seal home-field advantage.
And then, more heartbreak: just as it felt like we were really getting to know this Sheldon Rankins, his Achilles betrays us, and we lose him in that year’s divisional round.
Nonetheless, the team rightfully picked up Rankins’ fifth-year option heading into the 2019 season, just as he was returning from his torn Achilles, and just in time for the 26-year-old to break his ankle, thus placing him on injured reserve, once again, for the start of the 2019-2020 season.
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Rankins was able to return and give us two sacks, but that’s hardly enough to know if he’s lost a step.
As it currently stands, Rankins is ready to go for the 2020 season, but the question will loom until we see otherwise: how much of a toll have all the injuries taken on Rankins’ ability to disrupt opposing offenses?
Until we see Rankins is still the run-stuffing nightmare we’ve seen him be in the past, we won’t know who or what we have in the 98 jersey.
It’s fair to say that Rankins’ is one of the more undervalued defensive linemen in the league, but the lack of appreciation may be understandable, as it every time we seem to be getting used to Rankins, the football gods take him away.
A lot of our understanding of Rankins, and the continued staunchness of the Saints’ run defense depends on Rankins ability to stay healthy and perform at a high level this coming season.
WhoDatDish Writer’s Poll Ranking: 14.4
From Week 1 of 2017 to 2018’s divisional round, few defensive linemen in the league were better than Sheldon Rankins.
During that stretch, he started all 32 games he appeared in, racking up 66 tackles, 10 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Had this poll taken place during that span, he may have cracked the top five.
It may be that Sheldon Rankins picks up right where he left off once the regular season gets underway, but since that divisional round disaster, all we’ve seen is a Sheldon Rankins hologram.