The dust still is settling after the 2017 NFL draft, but there already are numerous 2018 mock drafts out there. And to the surprise of many, Mississippi State offensive lineman Martinas Rankin is showing up as a potential first-rounder.
FoxSports.com has him going ninth overall. WalterFootball.com has him going 21st overall. CBSSports.com has Rankin as the No. 2 senior offensive tackle for the 2018 draft, just behind Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame.
Rankin (6 feet 5, 305 pounds) started 10 games last season, but didn’t truly settle in until the second half of the season. He was a highly touted JC recruit in the 2015 class — with offers from Oklahoma and Florida, among others — and expected to make an immediate impact in 2015, but that never materialized. Instead, he redshirted amid talk he simply wasn’t ready for SEC play.
He did win the starting left tackle job last season, but looked lost early and drew criticism from fans as he was beat time and again against the likes of Auburn and LSU. Then, the light came on for Rankin in the middle of the year. He was awarded SEC offensive lineman of the week honors for his work in the Bulldogs’ 35-28 upset of then-No. 4 Texas A&M. That was indicative of his play down the stretch.
His vast improvement plus his versatility — he played some center in the spring, fits at both tackle spots and probably could play guard, too — has scouts and analysts talking about what could be in line for Rankin this season.
Of course, these things are moving targets, and Rankin’s draft status ultimately will be determined in large part by what happens on the field this fall. There are three tough SEC opponents in September — LSU, Georgia and Auburn — so Rankin will need to be strong out of the gate.
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