“And look out! Down he goes at the 44 yard line and that’s Sheldon Rankins!”
If you want a perfect definition of “strong” just watch number 98 for the Saints demolish offensive linemen. Sheldon Rankins has been a dominant piece of the Saints defensive line and a large part of why they are currently the second best defense against the run.
He has earned the nickname “Big Rank” and rightfully so. He is 6’2”, 287 pounds of man and he’s only 24 years old. In 2018 (11 games) he has recorded 7 sacks, 26 total tackles,10 of which were behind the line of scrimmage, and 12 QB hits. While those are good stats, and certainly better than his previous two years in the NFL, they are not overly impressive. As Rev. Deuce Windham mentioned in his article Inside the Trenches: How Sheldon Rankins is Adding Value to the Saints Defensive Line, “Some players defensively are finishers that come in and make the big play while other players are creators… During Rankins’ second season, we were able to see how strong of a creator he really was. While he only registered two sacks, he produced 14 hurries, according to Sports Radar”. While Rankins may not be getting a ton of tackles for loss or sacks, he is creating enough disruption to allow other players to finish. His success has been flying under the radar in a way in the past because he hasn’t been getting those big, standout plays.
The thing that has really been getting the attention of fans lately is his bullrush. I mean, the guy is running straight over grown men his size. It often looks like his competition has their shoelaces tied together. The way that he drove through Pat Elflein (#65) and sacked Kirk Cousins (#8) towards the end of the third quarter in the week 8 matchup versus the Vikings was unreal. It wasn’t just the one time either. He now is consistently destroying those that line up opposite him and shortly after, destroying the quarterback they were supposed to protect. He has lately been looking like a man among boys and hopefully, we will continue to see him shimmy on offenses for a long, long time.
Follow Ethan on Twitter: @emonj98