Photo credit: Wesley Hitt / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
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Third year Defensive Tackle Sheldon Rankins has been a huge addition for New Orleans. Rankins was a star at the University of Louisville and ended up being selected in the first round by the Saints. By adding a player in the trenches who can get a push into the offensive backfield Sean Payton helped his defense get a little bit nastier. There’s no coincidence that since then the Saints have been trending upwards in defensive output either. To be fair Marshon Lattimore was another key piece to puzzle but even though this front office selected two defenders early on in the past three drafts G.M Mickey Loomis still had to hit on those picks. Looking back in the rear-view mirror that’s exactly what’s happened and now New Orleans is a playoff contender again. Rankins has six sacks over his first two years but should improve with time. The former Cardinal is really starting to understand the professional game and what it takes to match up with those rock solid offensive lineman. Rankins isn’t a slouch by any means in the strength category himself. This guy can take on just about any player that lines up across from him and New Orleans needed someone who can control the line of scrimmage. Everything as far as the linebackers and defensive backs go falls in line from there. Not only because Rankins can get into the backfield and disrupt the timing of plays. Also because number 98 does a great job of absorbing blockers which in return frees up those LBs to take on more areas of the field. It should also be noted that Cameron Jordan and the other defensive lineman have benefited greatly from playing alongside of Rankins. Which proves there has been a trickle down effect taking place on the Saints defense. By getting more stops that’s going to get the ball back in Drew Brees hands more frequently. You can see how all of this has been a winning formula for the Big Easy and New Orleans will be aiming for their second Vince Lombardi Trophy of the Payton and Brees era. Sheldon Rankins will have to be at his best in order to make that happen.
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