Sheldon Rankins   DT   Louisville

Sheldon is a quick, 1-gap defensive lineman who can play on passing downs at more than one position on the defensive line. He plays in a 3-4 defense on the outside because of his quickness getting off the line of scrimmage. When his college team uses a four down lineman front, they use him on the inside taking advantage of his quickness off the line of scrimmage in a 1-gap system. Sheldon does a good job in the defense he plays in for his college team and gives excellent effort on every down and plays within the context of the game plan, but truthfully this system did not take advantage of Sheldon’s true value as a 1-gap attack defensive lineman.

Sheldon struggles in a 2-gap system against the run and against the double team. He struggles to get off blocks and make tackles in the hole. Sheldon also struggles with a lack of counter pass rush moves when his first move does not get him free. All of these issues can be corrected, but it will take some time. If Sheldon wants to play inside he has to learn to build himself up, get stronger and learn to lower his pads and get off blocks quicker. If he wants to play outside, he might have to lose some weight and learn more mature pass rushing moves and counter moves.

I’m not suggesting that Sheldon is a tweener type of player; what I am suggesting is that his college team did not develop his talents and that the next team to select him will have to decide how they want to play him to take advantage of his size and quickness off the snap. He has to learn better techniques to play inside or outside against the run, but the teams that play mostly a 1-gap attack defense will likely rate him high because of his size and quickness and in that style of defense he could have some quick success. However, in the long run, he has some work to do to become a complete defensive lineman for any NFL team. Sheldon looks to be a hard worker and looks on film to be an excellent teammate and for the purposes of this draft, I have no doubt that given the time Sheldon will become a core player for the team that elects him. In this draft with so many big and talented defensive linemen Sheldon could be selected in any round because he fits a certain style of defense until he develops.

Drew Boylhart  FEB.2016