5T #98 Sheldon Rankins, Louisville

6’2” – 305 lbs. – 5.10e

Started two of ten games played as a freshman, then started one game of ten as a sophomore, the team’s bowl game. Stepped into the starting lineup as a junior and was highly productive over thirteen games. Retained his starting role as a senior. Lines up as a five-technique defensive end in the Cardinals’ three-man defensive line, typically with two-gap responsibilities; did a lot of work at nose tackle as a junior. Works as part of a rotation, but will come onto the field on third downs. Has average height and length, with a thick build, especially in the thighs. As a pro, will likely be asked to work as a five-technique end, but could also be considered as a potential under tackle in sub packages. Impressive instincts and on-field demeanor. Strong player who can generate a lot of push with his bull-rush, walking opposing linemen back into the quarterback. Gives good effort as a run defender, with the ability to work his way down the line; very good willingness to pursue plays to the sidelines or down the field, making the occasional tackle on a tunnel screen. Has active hands and uses them pretty well to stack and shed blockers. Generates some force on contact; however, lets some tackle opportunities through his grasp. Uses a few different moves as a pass rusher, seeking indirect routes to the quarterback only occasionally; when he does work in a rip or swim move, can penetrate into the backfield relatively consistently. Also has a spin move, which he uses after forcing the quarterback to leave the pocket. Pretty agile in terms of turning the corner, with average to above-average speed in pursuit. However, is more of a pressure-generator who can force quarterbacks from the pocket than someone who has the elite closing burst to come down with sacks. Could do a better job of getting his hands up to bat down passes when the throw’s coming his way, although he has made a couple of interceptions over the course of his career. Doesn’t have the prototypical height and length teams look for in a defensive lineman, but is a pretty disruptive player who uses his power effectively to get into opposing backfields and cause trouble. Best fit would be as a defensive end in a two-gap 3-4 defense, but makes some sense as a three-technique tackle or the jumbo end on an even line. Has a pretty polished, well-rounded game with impressive mental tools and plenty of production, which should earn him a draft spot somewhere within the first two rounds in this year’s class.

Games watched: Kentucky (’14), Virginia (’14), Florida St. (’15)

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