Pros, Cons, and a Summary of Sheldon Rankins
- Quick first step, very impressive athlete
- Powerful arms and violent hands, uses them effectively
- Strong at the point of attack, can drive back blockers
- Possesses impressive agility and lateral quickness
- Quality arsenal of pass rushing moves
- Great instincts and play recognition
- Can disengage from blocks consistently
- Undersized at 6’1, 299 lbs.
- Lacks counter moves, gets stuck if initial attempt doesn’t work
- Needs to further develop in run support
- Inconsistent snap anticipation
Rankins is a proficient interior pass rusher, capable of getting after the quarterback on each down. Edge players get the glory, but interior players like Rankins who can collapse the pocket and disrupt up the middle are just as important.
There is a lot to like about Rankins’ game. He has an impressive first step and is an overall really good athlete.
From a technique standpoint, Rankins’ use of his arms and hands is top-notch. He does a great job to engage offensive lineman, keeping his arms extended, and is able to quickly disengage if needed.
He also has a nice arsenal of moves that he wins with, most notable a quality rip use that he uses to great success. On the flip side, Rankins does need to develop more counter moves. If his initial attempt doesn’t work, a lot of times he’ll get stuck.
His snap anticipation needs improvement, as he is often slow to react after the snap. And he can use some refinement in run support.
All in all, there isn’t a lot to complain about. My simple assessment of Rankins is that he is very good in some areas, good in most, and bad in a only a few. But thanks to his plus athleticism and good technique, he has big upside.
He put together a dominant week at the Senior Bowl, far and away proving himself head and shoulders above his peers. He won virtually every 1-on-1 drill during practice week, and that’s when the Aaron Donald comparison really started pouring in.
While I think that’s definitely a rich comparison, Rankins isn’t near the athlete Donald is, Rankins can certainly be a very good player in the NFL.
I love the potential fit in Oakland. He’d be a perfect complement to Dan Williams, noted run stuffer, on the inside of Oakland’s base 4-3 formation.
Add in Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards on the bookends, with a rotation that includes Justin Ellis and Denico Autry, that has Bruce Irvin and potentially Aldon Smith coming off the edge? Oh boy.
So with that being said, I’d be a big fan of this selection at #14. It’s not necessarily a position of need, but Rankins could be the final piece needed to make this a dominant front seven.
As far as where Rankins ranks compared to other realistic options, I’d only prefer Ezekiel Elliott and Vernon Hargreaves.