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2016 NFL Draft: Is Sheldon Rankins the next Aaron Donald?

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Sheldon Rankins was one of the stars of the Senior Bowl practices before having to withdraw. Could he star on the Giants' defensive line?

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In 2014, an undersized defensive tackle from Pittsburgh drew some interest for his production and disruptiveness as a pass rusher. He rocketed up draft boards on the strength of an incredibly impressive combine performance that forced scouts back to his tape to see that he really was a special prospect.

Until the draft process was in full swing, Aaron Donald was generally thought of as a good player, but too small to be drafted highly.

In some cases, that applies to Sheldon Rankins. As an undersized defensive tackle from a smaller school, who has quietly been productive and disruptive before starring in the week of practice before the Senior Bowl, Rankins has a similar story to Donald. Perhaps because of Donald's explosion onto the NFL scene, the scouting community seems to be much more readily accepting of Rankins as a first-round prospect than they were of Donald.

The New York Giants are in dire need of disruptive defensive linemen. Could we see Rankins teamed with Johnathan Hankins come May?

Measurables

Pros

  • Very productive and disruptive interior defender
  • Rare quickness and explosiveness for the position. Rankins can win with speed, power, or in a twist/stunt.
  • Very active hands, uses a variety of moves as a rusher
  • Strong motor, he  seems to give his all every play, and plays to the echo of the whistle
  • Dominated in Senior Bowl practices -- sprained knee kept him out of the game.

Cons

  • Shorter than ideal, close to 300 pounds, and with just "acceptable" arm length, Rankins has less than ideal measurables
  • Frame limits his physical upside -- He isn't likely to get much bigger or stronger, if at all.
  • Active hands, but still needs to refine his moves/usage

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Mocking The Draft - 46th overall

CBS - 36th overall

Draft Tek - 125th overall

Does He Fit with the Giants?

Yep.

Sheldon Rankins has the power to hold up in the run game and more than enough quickness -- to go with already good hand usage -- to be a menace to any passing game. In addition to having almost the same last name as Johnathan Hankins, Sheldon Rankins would pair well with the Giants' Secret Superstar defensive tackle. Hankins' blend of agility and power, to go with Rankins' explosive burst would cause all kinds of problems for opposing defenses.

... Not to mention the added benefit of good defensive tackle play, which is making the lives of the linebackers easier.

Final Thoughts

If you liked Aaron Donald, odds are you'll like Rankins. He is an athletic, productive, disruptive -- and isn't disruption really production? -- high motor, front seven player. He doesn't have ideal measurables, but that also doesn't really matter much.

Rankins has the skillset to win at the NFL level, and he uses what he has very well. The question facing the Giants is if he isn't quite worth the 10th overall selection, can he possibly fall all the way to 40th overall?