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Sheldon Rankins accepts 2016 Senior Bowl invitation

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville senior defensive end Sheldon Rankins has earned, and has accepted, an invitation to play in the 2016 Senior Bowl.

Rankins' invite will result in the third straight year where a Cardinal defender has participated in the prestigious game. Lorenzo Mauldin turned heads at the game in 2015, as did Marcus Smith the year before. Both players wound up improving their draft stock significantly. Bilal Powell and Johnny Patrick also played in the game back in 2010. Both wound up being picked in the first four rounds of the draft and have enjoyed successful NFL careers.

The week-long practice that precedes the Senior Bowl is generally more significant than the game itself. The practices are attended by key NFL personnel (coaches, general managers, scouts, etc.), who oversee the players as possible prospects for pro football, as well as members of the media who keep tabs on the winners and losers from the week.

Roughly thirty percent of the NFL is made up of players who competed in the Senior Bowl, a remarkably high number when you consider that underclassmen are prohibited from participating.

Congrats to Sheldon on this honor. Hope he hurdles some dudes.