Arizona Cardinals: 3 defensive lineman to target in round one
Sheldon Rankins, Defensive tackle, Louisville
The last lineman on our list is a Cardinal, from Louisville that is. Sheldon Rankins shot up draft boards after an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl and NFL combine. As a senior, Rankins accumulated 58 total tackles and 6 sacks. Rankins played in 36 of Louisville’s last 39 games.
Rankins has very powerful legs which allows him to control the line of scrimmage. Quick off the snap, Rankins launches into blockers before they can establish themselves, giving him the necessary advantage to disrupt the play. He possesses elite footwork which enables to hold his own against double teams and allows him to move laterally with ease. Unlike Ogbah, Rankins has extremely loose hips which let’s him gain the advantage on the edge and rush the passer. Dwight Freeney might be able to pass on his patented spin move to Rankins. If anyone can possibly perform Freeney’s spin move, it’s Rankins because of his flexibility and stability.
Next: Who will be the #2 quarterback?
The biggest drawback regarding Rankins is his lack of size. At 6’1″ 299lbs, Rankins leaves a lot to be desired in terms of height. Teams are worried he will be overpowered against experienced and often stronger guards once he gets to the NFL. He may have been able to get away with his lack of height if he played defensive end, but he plays on the interior defensive line. Teams generally want bigger and longer bodies anchoring the inner defensive line.
If Arizona is comfortable with his lack of size and instead highlight his high football IQ, athleticism, speed and great footwork, Rankins could end up being just as productive of player for the Arizona Cardinals as he was as a Louisville Cardinal.