Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints have not been playoff contenders in recent years, but they are hoping to turn that around in the next year or two. Drafting the right players and bringing in young talent is the way for the Saints to get back to that point. They took a risky gamble with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by taking Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.
Rankins hadn’t been mock drafted by any analysts as high as he ended up going. It was a shock when his name was called.
New Orleans is certainly taking a risk, but it could end up paying off when everything is said and done. Sometimes to least known players are the ones that turn out being the best. Rankins has a lot of pressure on his shoulders after being picked as high as he was, but can he live up to the pressure?
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network showered praise on Rankins and seems to believe that the Saints made the right choice by bringing him on board.
“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.”
Defense has been one of the biggest issues for the Saints over the last couple of seasons. Drew Brees, and the offense are still more than capable of putting up big all-around numbers. Rankins will be a big piece of the puzzle to getting the defense back on track if he lives up to his full potential.
Last season as a member of the Louisville Cardinals, Rankins compiled 58 total tackles to go along with six sacks. Those numbers impressed the Saints, and he came across great in the draft process as well. Rankins will be a load for offensive lines to handle and will help the Saints shut down the run.
At 6-foot-1 and 299 pounds, Rankins is a beast from a physical standpoint. He has potential through the ceiling and has the work ethic to become whatever he wants to be in the NFL.
He doesn’t come without baggage and concerns, however, as he is undersized for being an interior defensive lineman. Rankins was able to overpower his opponents in college, but that will not end up being the case at the next level. Whether he is capable of beefing up to fit the NFL game while still keeping his quickness remains to be seen and is a concern.
All of that said, the Saints are going to end up being a team to watch this season. They are taking risks, but they are risks that a team trying to get back into playoff contention has to make. Rankins could end up becoming the player that the Saints hope they’re drafting, but there is also a chance he ends up as a bust.
Expect to see him work his way into a role in the 2016 NFL season, but how he’ll play is another question. New Orleans needs him to live up to their hopes, or else they will be right back to the struggling defensive line that they have been in the last couple of seasons.
What do you think of the New Orleans Saints’ decision to select Sheldon Rankins with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft? Do you think he will be a bang or a bust? Let us know in the comment box below!
[AP Photo/Chuck Burton]