In run defense, Rankins does a great job of controlling his blocker and shedding at the proper time to chase the ball carrier.
In the games I watched, Rankins typically did an excellent job of reading and reacting to find the ball carrier. He rarely made a mistake, but when he did and the offensive coordinator attempted to attack him again, he made up for it and made a play on the ball.
Against Auburn, Rankins lost the ball carrier as he followed the downblocker in this power play. However, later in the game, Auburn ran the same exact play and Rankins kept his eyes in the backfield to read the play properly and stop it at the line of scrimmage.
On screen passes, Rankins did a good job of sniffing out ball carriers. Rankins singlehandedly broke up this play. His awareness is at the top for interior defensive lineman in this class.
Just like in pass rush situations, Rankins does an excellent job of pursuing the ball carrier.
Where Rankins struggles is at the point of attack when he attempts to two-gap. Normally stout on the edge against a single block, he is simply too small to hold a double team.
Pro Comparison and Draft Projection
Pro Comparison: Grady Jarrett. Rankins, like Jarrett, was an undersized interior defender in the ACC. Both possessed excellent motors in pursuit and a terrific sense for locating the ball in the backfield. The size limitations show up when each of these lineman take on multiple blockers, so a scheme that allows them purely one-gap as a 1-tech or as a 3-tech would be the best for them.
Projected Round: Middle First Round. Rankins has one of the better bursts and speed-to-power conversions of any interior defensive lineman in this class. His height, however, pigeonholes him as a one-gapper in the NFL. His scheme versatility based on his size is lacking. A team running a mixed 3-4/4-3 scheme with their interior defensive lineman will have him ranked lower on their big boards.
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