New Orleans Saints: Defensive Player Spotlight – Sheldon Rankins
This spotlight could have easily been filled with multiple players from the Saints defense, Jarius Byrd, Marshone Lattimore, and those are just some to name, but the spotlight is shining brightly on Sheldon Rankins. The defensive lineman last year showed exactly how to stuff the run, collecting 20 tackles and 4 sacks, Rankins is looking to improve the stats this year. Sheldon has easily become the vocal and visible leader for the Saints defense and is looking to turn around, what some would say the worst year defensively in Saints history, to a memorable defense this season.
With the Saints’ star lineman Nick Fairley being ruled out the rest of this year, and potentially the rest of his football career, because of a heart symptom, Sheldon Rankins is assuming the role of run stuffer on the defensive line. Rankins was a glimmer of hope on the defense last year, creating havoc for running backs and quarterbacks who were within arms reach. But losing Fairley also lost some of that touch from the defensive line, not having a veteran and a leader on the team, was just the passing of the buck to Rankins. Rankins will also be able to achieve more tackles this year, since the Saints spend so much of their offseason addressing the needs of the defense, and bulking up the secondary to give the line more time to get to the quarterback, I would not be surprised if Rankins numbers, all of them, doubled from last year.
The New Orleans Saints are looking for Sheldon Rankins to step up again this year and be the dominant force of the line again. With the amount of skill and defensive help the Saints provided, I could easily see Rankins leading the defense to top 10 against the rush and top 20 against the pass, which is a huge upgrade from being almost dead last in the rankings last year. Sheldon should easily double his numbers and will be the shining gem on the defensive line.