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2016 NFL Mock Draft: Sheldon Rankins rising

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a number of options in the first round of the draft, but one of the most intriguing ones is Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. He's set to visit the Buccaneers this week, according to Mike Garafolo, and Pewter Report has repeatedly named him as their top option for the Bucs in the first round, including in their latest mock draft.

One minor problem: Rankins is almost exclusively a three-technique, and the Bucs have one of the best and most highly-paid three-techniques in the country in Gerald McCoy. And you can't really play two of those at the same time, especially not with Mike Smith at the helm, who has a history of playing with bigger, less shifty defensive tackles, at least over center. Still, with few other options an overwhelming favorite, drafting a very talented player at a position that is not quite a need isn't the worst idea around.

Our own Jason Kanno wrote about three of the top defensive tackles in the draft last week, and came away reasonably impressed with Rankins.

Sheldon Rankins isn't the physical specimen Nkemdiche is, but he is a more trustworthy pass-rusher. Nkemdiche collected a mere seven sacks at Ole Miss, an unfortunate byproduct of his poor finish. Rankins on the other hand was the model of interior pass rush production the last two years, notching eight sacks in 2014 and six in 2015. He brings tremendous quickness comparable to Nkemdiche.

Of course, few people are beating the Rankins drum at this point -- Pewter Report really is the only one to do it consistently. Elsewhere, Vernon Hargreaves remains by far the most popular choice for the Bucs -- that's true in the latest SB Nation mock draft, written by Adam Stites this time.

The Buccaneers were severely lacking at cornerback in 2015, and tried to address the issue some by signing Brent Grimes and Josh Robinson in free agency. Neither player is a solution like Hargreaves would be, and the Buccaneers could immediately benefit after rotating through several players in 2015.

It's just such an easy choice, even if it's not exactly an exciting one. He's also turning into more and more of a consensus pick. In Stites' mock draft roundup, Hargreaves is the pick in 36.8% of cases -- Rankins is lumped in among the 8% "others" choices.