Photo of Sheldon Rankins
Drafted By: Saints
  • Round 1
  • Pick 12
  • Overall 12

Combine Results

6.27 ?
  • 5.03 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 28 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 34.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 118.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 7.44 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.59 SEC
    Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

"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

  • 6'1" Height
  • 33 3/8" Arm Length
  • 299LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/8" Hands


In the Cardinals' three-man front, Rankins presents issues for both interior and outside blockers. His only start as a sophomore was in the team's bowl game, but he came on strong as a junior in the team's first year in the ACC (13.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two interceptions). ACC coaches elevated him from a third-team all-conference pick to second team this year (13 tackles for loss, six sacks) as he continued to terrorize ballcarriers. Rankins' versatility as a potential starting five-technique or three-technique makes him a fit in any system.



Powerfully built lower half with very good strength. Is extremely compact, but still flexible and very athletic. Everything he does is explosive. Fires into blockers and can jolt and displace them with a combination of leverage and power. Strong base provides excellent balance to battle against double teams or down blocks. At times, will absolutely own finesse blockers. Elite foot quickness for interior defender. Will be difficult to hook or cross­face for NFL offensive linemen because of his lateral quickness. Plays with powerful, violent hands. Can play in 2­-gap or 1-­gap scheme and did just that at Louisville. Plays through the blocker reading and shedding on time to make tackles against the run. Loose, explosive hips that allow him to win edge battles and turn the corner as pass rusher and potentially excel in twist game. Highly productive pass rusher in each of the last two season. Bloodhound with great instincts to diagnose and shut­down screens.


Undersized for full-­time interior position by NFL standards. Flashes quite a bit on tape, but many of his victims lacked the strength that he’ll see from NFL guards. Despite having decent arm length, is hardly long-­levered and could struggle to turn the corner against an NFL redirect block once he gets on a guard’s edge. Average secondary rush when his initial charge is stymied. Scouts believe he could lose some quickness if he tries to bulk up to prepare for rigors of NFL interior play. Some teams are concerned about his lack of overall size which could hurt his stock.

Draft Projection

Round 1

Sources Tell Us

"Our area scout really likes him a lot and he's already angling for us to consider him, but he falls outside of the physical parameters of what we want from inside guys. I see him as only a 4­-3 nose for a one­-gap defense and that's the only fit." -- Former Louisville defensive tackle Brandon Dunn

NFL Comparison

Grady Jarrett

Bottom Line

Everything about Rankins game screams winning football player. He has been extremely productive as a bull­rusher and edge rusher and he can hold the point of attack or play in gaps. Rankins is a ball of power with rare foot quickness, a great motor and outstanding feel for his position. With so many teams playing in sub­packages now, I would expect both 4-­3 and 3-­4 teams to consider him for an interior spot despite his shorter stature. Thanks to Rankins' ability to disrupt, I think he has a great shot at getting starter's snaps early on, but don't be shocked to see him fall a little in the draft due to his smaller stature.
-Lance Zierlein
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-9.00 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl to All-Pro Ability
6.50-6.99 Good NFL Starter with Pro Bowl Potential
6.00-6.49 Chance to become good NFL starter
5.70-5.99 Could become early NFL starter
5.30-5.69 Backup or eventual starter
5.15-5.29 Developmental prospect or special teams potential
5.01-5.14 Back end of the roster
5.00 50/50 Chance of making the roster