The Saints have been a defensive disaster for several years now. On Thursday, the Black n’ Gold management finally looked beyond coaching changes and more pressure on the offense. The team used the No. 12 pick in the NFL draft to snag pass-rushing, 3-technique defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.
Rankins (6-foot-1, 299 pounds) racked up 14 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss over his final two seasons at Louisville.
“He’s explosive. He definitely is a pressure player. He’s someone that wins with initial quickness. He’s got real good football instincts,” said Coach Payton. “And then every other box that you look for as far as two-time captain, a guy that everyone at the school speaks highly of, just keep going down the line.”
ESPN analysts noted that Rankins’ ability to defend both the pass and the rush makes him a coveted pick. The Saints could use help in both categories. They ranked last in both yards per rush and yards per pass in 2015. The twofer is expected to make an instant impact.
“I don't know any specifics on what they want me to do or anything like that,” Rankins said in a televised post draft interview. “But they're gonna get a hard worker, someone who’s gonna come in and try to pick up the defense and try to gain the trust of the veterans, the guys that have been busting their butts in that locker room. And then we'll go from there.”
If it seems to good to be true, it might be. Rankins, a Georgian, is a well known Falcons fan.