As he prepares to enter his third season with the New Orleans Saints, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins wants to become a leadership figure on defense.
According to Herbie Teope of NFL.com, the 2016 first-round pick feels he’s equipped to take another step forward on a defense that improved significantly last season.
“Now, it’s all about improving, whether it’s just finishing plays,” Rankins said. “I had a lot of pressures, a lot of quarterback hits, but now it’s time to turn those into sacks. A lot of tackles around the line of scrimmage, but now it’s time to turn those into (tackles for loss). It’s time to be a leader for this defense.”
Rankins became a full-time starter for the Saints in his second season after being a rotational player in 2016. The No. 12 overall pick had four sacks as a rookie when he was a rotational piece after beginning the year on injured reserve, but just two sacks last season as a full-time player. He finished his 2017 season with 26 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.
“I think what I do speaks for itself,” Rankins said. “I think I’m versatile. I can rush the passer, I can stop the run, I can do whatever the defense needs me to do. I’ll always carry that with me in and out of every season, and my mindset won’t change.”