While Rankins will be viewed by some as undersized, Senior Bowl Senior Director Phil Savage compared him to former UNC DT Sylvester Williams, a late first-rounder of the Broncos in 2013.
Rankins is a two-plus year starter for Louisville. The Cardinals' defensive coordinator Todd Grantham (former Browns DC) brought a pro-system to Louisville. They use a base 3-4, where Rankins has aligned at both DE and at nose. When Louisville goes to it's sub package, he slides to a 1- or 3-technique.
Rankins had 26.5 tackles for loss, with 14 sacks over the past two seasons.
Rankins was ProFootballFocus' highest-graded defensive interior lineman during the 2014 season, sliding only slightly in their rankings this past season.
In his preview, Rotoworld draft analyst Josh Norris ranked Rankins as the best prospect at the Senior Bowl. He explained "Rankins is ahead of the game in terms of hand use", praising his "pass rushing awareness".
Optimum Scouting's Eric Galco wrote of Rankins' Senior Bowl performance thus far "Rankins, from Louisville was completely dominant. He showed impressive burst and athleticism, and array of moved pass rushing and versus the run, and read the offensive line play beautifully".
Edit, Rankins will miss the rest of the week after injuring his knee on Thursday.
Draft Insider Tony Pauline recently graded Rankins as just a 3-4th rounder, but it appears once again Pauline may be lower than the rest of the analysts.
Jeremiah said after Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice "He can win with quickness or power. He has an explosive get-off and powerful hands. He plays like someone 25 pounds lighter. He's an all-day first-round pick."
This time, cohort Lance Zierlein agrees (almost), ranking Rankins 35th in his January version of his top-100.
Zierlein writes the draft profiles for NFL.com, and has a lot of positive things to say. "Everything he does is explosive. Fires into blockers and can jolt and displace them with a combination of leverage and power. Elite foot quickness for interior defender. Can hold the point of attack or play in gaps....a great motor and outstanding feel for his position. Don't be shocked to see him fall a little in the draft due to his small stature. (Interestingly, he compares him to Grady Jarrett, who slid to the fifth-round last spring.)
CBSSports.com's Dane Bugler projects Rankins as the No. 28 pick going to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Has the lateral quickness to stunt and loop around bodies to close on the pocket. He displays terrific effort and is a determined chaser to catch ballcarriers from behind away from the line of scrimmage.
Rankins has heavy hands and terrific initial momentum to generate movement at the point of attack, seeing through blocks to accurately track the ball. He redirects well for a man his size, collecting himself on the move to break down in small spaces.
For what it's worth, Rankins had the best production ratio of any of the top defensive tackles over the past two seasons. (Thanks to Blogging the Boys writer One.Cool.Customer for chart below)
|Rank||Player||School||Position||Height||Weight||Sacks||TFL||Games||Career||Last 2 Yrs|
|176||Anthony Zettel||Penn St||DT/DE||6'4"||278||16||38.0||50||1.08||1.54|
|585||Mehdi Abdesmad||Boston College||DT||6'6"||286||7.5||21.5||32||0.91||1.28|
|112||Sheldon Day||Notre Dame||DT||6'1"||285||6.5||32.0||48||0.80||1.17|
|44||Austin Johnson||Penn St||DT||6'3"||325||9.5||24.0||38||0.88||1.10|
|96||Vernon Butler||Louisiana Tech||DT||6'3"||309||5||29.0||49||0.69||1.00|
|66||Adolphus Washington||Ohio St||DT||6'4"||290||12.5||25.0||49||0.77||0.96|
|155||Adam Gotsis||Georgia Tech||DT||6'5"||285||11.5||27.5||48||0.81||0.76|
|22||Robert Nkemdiche||Ole Miss||DT||6'3"||296||7||19.0||35||0.74||0.67|
|91||Chris Jones||Miss St||DT||6'5"||308||11.5||18.0||39||0.76||0.63|
|188||Luther Maddy||Virginia Tech||DT||6'0"||293||9||29.5||56||0.69||0.59|
|116||Nile Lawrence-Sample||Florida St||DT||6'1"||305||6.5||6.5||37||0.35||0.38|
(Editor's Note: The Production Ratio is displayed in the last two columns of the above chart. For more information on Production Ratio, click here.)
The "Rank" on the table is from CBS Draft Ranking ( per January 15th), with "Production Ratio" being equal to sacks + tackles for loss divided by the number of games played.
Rankins is consistently the first off the ball, and one of the rare players that can get up the field from the 1-technique spot.
I kind of want to pump the breaks a bit. While I am not suggesting this as a true comp, to me Rankins level of play and body type suggest that he should come off the board around where the Ravens' selected former Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan, with the 48th pick.