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CSC Draft Spotlight: Sheldon Rankins

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With the 2016 NFL Draft right around the corner, we highlight Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins and take a look at how he stacks up against the competition from this year’s draft class, where he is projected to go and where he fits best at.

Sheldon Rankins hopes to be an impact player at the next level
Sheldon Rankins hopes to be an impact player at the next level
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The terrorizing force known as Sheldon Rankins tore it up his junior and senior seasons for the Louisville Cardinals, making life miserable for ball carriers in his days in the Atlantic Coast Conference. As Rankins prepares to take his talents to the next level, the question is where will he go? His name has been linked to several teams, including the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints. Need to learn more about this stud defensive end? Here’s all you need to know about Sheldon Rankins before Draft Day 2K16:

The Basics

Rankins was a flat-out beast his last two years in college, with his junior campaign being his breakout year. Playing in a 3-man front at The ‘Ville, he was a terror for in and outside blockers. What scouts love most is his versatility; he can play in the 3- or 5-man technique and have no issues whatsoever. His combine numbers, the full results of which you can see below, proved to be very solid, as well.

Sheldon Rankins, DT Louisville - NFL Draft Combine Results

  • 40-Yard Dash: 5.03
  • Bench Press: 28 repetitions
  • Vertical Jump: 34.5 inches
  • Broad Jump: 118 inches

The numbers and the tape show a strong defensive tackle, who is athletic, to boot, something NFL teams love. The wider base he has also allows for more explosion, yet another attribute that has teams salivating over the ACC All-Conference 2nd Team player.

The Concerns

As good as Rankins is, there are a few concerns that come with him. For starters, he is considered to be undersized by NFL standards, something experts think could hurt his draft stock, causing him to slip to the late-1st round. His arm length also seems to be a concern for some scouts. He measured in at 33 3/8 inches, but that concerns some who think he could struggle shucking his blocks and getting around the edge. His second effort also seems to be a red flag, according to the copy of his official scouting report. When his first move gets shut down by the offensive lineman, tape suggests Rankins does not go as hard on the second effort to get after the QB, something that may not sit well with more than a few NFL teams.

What the Experts Say

Despite a few areas of concern, most NFL teams are very high on Rankins. His football IQ is off the charts and he has a real nose for the ball, something draft experts love. His versatility really makes him a hot commodity, especially with so many teams now playing subpackages on defense. Footwork, which is always a key area for NFL scouts, seems to be no problem for the Louisville alum. Scouts praise his quick feet, as well as his bull rushing abilities that helped him 58 total tackles and 6 sacks during his senior season. Where he will be drafted seems to be the point of contention among the experts. As mentioned before, he is a bit undersized, potentially causing him to fall into the latter parts of the 1st-round. But based on the rave reviews he has received, a good number of teams may be willing to ‘reach’ for Rankins with a early-to-mid 1st-round pick, no matter what the draft gurus say.

Where He Fits In

There is no shortage of teams Sheldon Rankins could fit into. No matter where he goes, he will make an immediate impact. The scouting report says that he will be a “Starter Day 1” and it is hard to argue with that. His name has popped up around the 11-19 pick range, with analysts arguing that he could go to Chicago, New Orleans or even Buffalo. The Bills selection at 19 would be an interesting selection, according to this writer. With Kyle Williams banged up and coming to the end of his career, drafting Rankins would be a great addition to that Rex Ryan defense, especially with the opportunity to have Marcell Dareus play right along side him. The Saints could also you a multi-tool player like Rankins. New Orleans could use another body on the front-7 and with Rankins ability to snuff out the run, he could prove to be a great addition to the Saints defense.

PICK PROJECTION: 11th Overall Pick - Chicago Bears

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Rankins has all the tools to be a major impact player right away. It is not everyday you can get a guy who is as versatile as he is, not to mention a guy who has a great first move and loves the game as much as he does. Do not expect the critiques of his size hold him back. In anything, he will use them as fuel to be an ever better player come his rookie campaign. Do not be surprised to see him at the Pro Bowl in a few years, making all kinds of noise along the way.