NFL mock draft: Building in the trenches

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Rankins could really be a difference maker on an already talented defense.
Rankins could really be a difference maker on an already talented defense. /

1st Round

Sheldon Rankins – DT – Louisville

Strengths: Dynamic player who can line up at virtually any spot in a 4-man or 3-man front.  Rankins possesses excellent power and quickness, which allows him to attack the offense in a variety of ways.  Dominated one-on-one drills at Senior Bowl practices.  Shows an impressive array of pass-rushing techniques, and shows an excellent nose for the football.  Plays hard and mean all the way to the whistle.

Weaknesses: Rankins understanding of the game hasn’t yet caught up to his ability.  He knows he’s better than most of the other players on the field, but hasn’t yet refined his game to fully take advantage of that.  He will play a bit undisciplined in his overall technique.

The Fit: As of now, the general assumption seems to be that the Chiefs will lose both Jaye Howard and Mike DeVito to Free Agency.  That is still far from being a certainty, but it’s okay to operate on the assumption for now.  If that is the case, the Chiefs will need some help on the defensive line, and Rankins looks to have the makings of an absolute monster.

He has shown the ability to dominate with both power and speed, which means he should be able to make in-game adjustments based on the how the offense is challenging him.  An immediate starter with Pro Bowl potential.  In a class loaded with defensive line talent, Rankins is one of the best.  Any other year, and he would not be available this late.

Next: 2nd Round