I can't tell you that I was sitting there before the 12th pick in the NFL Draft hoping that it would be Sheldon Rankins. I would be lying if I said I didn't see visions of Myles Jack flying around the middle of the field blanketing the hundreds of tight ends and running backs that preyed endlessly on the Saints defense last year. Of course the thought of picking up a big play wide receiver like Laquon Treadwell to compliment Brandin Cooks briefly crossed my mind. The reason being is simple. I don't have to answer to anyone if the Saints first round pick is forced out of the NFL in three seasons with reoccurring knee issues. If the Saints defense flat out embarrasses itself again I'm the one pointing the finger at their decision to go offense in the first round, not the person taking responsibility for it. Is an interior defensive lineman the "sexiest" of draft picks? Of course not. However, the more I read on the one that New Orleans just acquired to help anchor their front seven the weaker I get in the knees.
I won't pretend that I know the intricacies of playing in the trenches, but I also won't pretend that I don't know production. 111 tackles? 83 pressures? 26.5 tackles for a loss? 14 sacks? All over the course of the last two years from a position whose primary job responsibility isn't putting the quarterback on his ass? The scariest part about those numbers is that it wasn't until they were in the rearview that he made his biggest statement by completely dominating the best of his collegiate competition at the Senior Bowl. I don't know if he was the most talented player on the board, but the kid can clearly play and he can play at a position the Saints have been negligent in filling. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he brings speed, athleticism, and - most importantly - an interior pass rush to a defense that often left opposing quarterbacks enough time to do their taxes before they were forced to throw. You can't ask for much more out of a defensive draft pick than a solid resume, a high ceiling, versatility, and - sadly enough for this current Saints team - the ability to actually tackle people. Sheldon Rankins looks to provide all of that and provide it in bunches. Since a draft analysis can't truly be a draft analysis without a comparison, the name I have seen mentioned the most often is Aaron Donald. Without placing the entirety of the world on his shoulders, that's not bad hypothetical company to be in.
From Doug Farrar's fingers to God's ears to the opponent's backfield...