The Louisville Cardinal

Rankins and Burgess headline Cardinal’s 2016 NFL draft class

By Conner Farrell–

Former Louisville football players Sheldon Rankins and James Burgess caused havoc on opposing team’s backfields. The two combined for 61.5 tackles for a loss, 22 sacks and eight interceptions in their four years at U of L. With their sights now set on the NFL, the two defensive captains of the 2015 team have turned the heads of NFL scouts.

“Everything about Rankins game screams winning football player,” Lance Zierlin of NFL.com said. “He has been extremely productive as a bull-rusher and edge rusher and he can hold the point of attack or play in gaps. Rankins is a ball of power with rare foot quickness, a great motor and outstanding feel for his position.”

Rankins posted impressive numbers at last week’s NFL combine to add to a great performance at last month’s Senior Bowl. In recent mock drafts, Rankins has been projected to go as high as the 12th overall pick and as low as the 26th overall pick. He is also rated as one of the top defensive linemen in this year’s draft.

Burgess did not receive an invitation to last week’s NFL combine, but he will get an opportunity to showcase his skill at Louisville’s pro day on March 9. Burgess has been projected as high as a fifth-round pick.

“Three-year starter lacking the size and toughness to win against the run, but above average production and man cover talent against the pass. The tape shows a player who is too often confused and out of position to be relied upon as a starter, but his pursuit speed and ability in the passing game gives him a shot at making a roster as an outside linebacker if he can prove to be a special teams winner,” Zierlein said about Burgess.

Rankins and Burgess look to add to a long list of Cardinals currently playing in the NFL. The Cardinals have had 14 players drafted in the past four years, including 10 last year. Both of these players have been proven winners on the field and will look to continue their success on Sunday’s. The NFL Draft begins on April 28.

Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal