New Orleans Saints DT Sheldon Rankins Primed for a Breakout – (CSC) Saints News

The former 1st Round Pick could be in a for a big
2018 season.

For the first time in
the Sean Payton Era, the New
Orleans Saints
could actually field a defense that
strikes fear in opposing offenses. They have a young and talented
secondary and have made efforts to improve their front seven with
the offseason additions of Demario
in free agency and Marcus Davenport in the

While 2017 Defense Rookie of
the Year CB Marshon
and (finally-)Pro Bowl
DE Cameron
might be the most talked about players on the
Saints defense, it’s actually DT Sheldon
that Bleacher Report has named as the Saints’
breakout candidate

Basically every New Orleans Saints rookie broke out
in 2017, but the team’s top 2016 draft pick is still awaiting his
coming-out party.

Will this be the
year for defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins?

The 2016 No. 12 overall pick made a much bigger
impact as a 16-game starter in 2017 than he did as a rookie reserve
in 2016, but his sack total actually dropped from four to two
despite the fact he got more work on the edge.

It wasn’t as though he wasn’t creating pressure,
though, which is why Rankins knows he has to become a better

“Now, it’s all about
improving, whether it’s just finishing plays,” Rankins said
recently, per Herbie Teope of “I had a lot of pressures, a lot of quarterback
hits, but now it’s time to turn those into sacks. A lot of tackles
around the line of scrimmage, but now it’s time to turn those into
(tackles for loss). It’s time to be a leader for this

Sophomores Alvin Kamara,
Marshon Lattimore and Ryan
all already look like stars. So if the Saints are
going to take a big step forward in 2018, it would help if
third-year early-round picks Rankins, Vonn
and David
took their games to the next level. And it
starts with the big 24-year-old Louisville product. has
even recognized that Rankins is posed to take more of a leadership
role on the Saints defense. Check out this self-aware quote from
Rankins to

“Get some film and watch
it,” Rankins said emphatically. “I think what I do speaks for
itself. I think I’m versatile. I can rush the passer, I can stop
the run, I can do whatever the defense needs me to do. I’ll always
carry that with me in and out of every season, and my mindset won’t

He’s not
wrong. While Rankins finished with a pretty quiet stat line in 2017
(26 total tackles and 2 sacks), he graded out as an above-average
Defensive Tackle according to Pro Football Focus. He also added
this interception to highlight his year:

A returning Alex
and the addition of Marcus Davenport on the
defensive line should help Sheldon Rankins generate more pressure
in the interior, and Rankins take a big step forward in 2018, watch


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