Saints pick Sheldon Rankins in the first round of the draft to strengthen their interior defensive line. The pick could not have been a better choice. Rankins is perhaps the second best interior defensive lineman (a top ten 2016 draft player) after DeForest Buckner. Rankins is considered a well-rounded player capable of both run and pass defense. He is a very versatile player and superlatives have been rightly heaped upon him. Sean Payton expects him to play alongside John Jenkins and Nick Fairley. Last year, the Saints truly wanted and tried to get Danny Shelton who was selected by the Cleveland Browns before the Saints. (Personally, every year I have wanted a defensive tackle because the math just makes sense–if two defensive lineman are double teamed and the quarterback is engaged, then there are nine players on defense defending six players on offense.)
Little known fact–Sheldon Rankins turned 22 yesterday. Happy birthday, Sheldon!
Sean Payton says Rankins will play from the interior, but still as a pressure player who can rush from the inside pic.twitter.com/CmzZOV8sn1
— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) April 29, 2016
Payton on Rankins: “It’s nice that he was a FORMER Falcons fan” #SaintsDraft
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 29, 2016
While the Saints may have been eyeing Vernon Hargreaves and Laremy Tunsil, Sheldon Rankins is the best choice after cornerback Hargreaves was selected. Cornerbacks are scarcer in supply this draft than defensive tackle–to spend a first round selection on another cornerback that did not grade as well as Rankins did not make sense.
Rankins has elite short area quickness. Understands leverage. Explosive on the inside as a pass rusher but can rush on the edge. Has a great motor. A little shorter than you would like for the position. Will own finesse offensive line blockers. Will be hard to hook him due to his lateral quickness. Powerful, violent hands. Loose hips. Smart player. Almost unblockable one on one. Uses a variety of hand moves. Plays on his feet like a linebacker. Good knee bend and low power base. Compares to Grady Jarrett and Kawann Short.
“The Saints have been awful on defense, so this is not a surprise pick here for me. Rankins is the best three-technique, which is a defensive tackle in a four-man front. He will be a sub-package interior pass rusher and one of the better ones in this league. What he does best is pick a gap and go. He’s one of the quicker defensive tackles we’ve seen in the last several years.” — Mike Mayock
(As an aside, someone had been trying to sell the Tunsil video for weeks before the draft but found no takers says DeadSpin. Click on the link in the tweet to read their story.)
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) April 29, 2016