2011 NFL Draft Profile: DE – Ryan Kerrigan – Purdue

If you’ve read any 2011 mock drafts you probably know who Ryan Kerrigan is. I think it’s fair to say that Kerrigan has been the favorite mock selection to the Jaguars in the majority of mocks two and a half months prior to the draft.

Initially I was not behind the mock selections, but I’m slowly coming around. I wouldn’t quite say that he’s one of my favorite prospects in this draft yet, but he’s certainly a legitimate candidate for a first round selection. There are two reasons why I was against drafting Kerrigan 16th overall, but as I watched more game tape I warmed to the idea.

The first reason was that many mock drafters, for some reason, have the Jaguars selecting the best available defensive end rather than best available player. Whether that be Adrian Clayborn, Aldon Smith, JJ Watt, Cameron Heyward, Ryan Kerrigan or Cameron Jordan. I’m positive a mock draft can be found in which the Jaguars select one of the listed players. I’m not entirely sure why the defensive end position became perceived as the biggest need of the Jaguars, but it seemed as though Kerrigan was merely the beneficiary of that perception rather than actually deserving of the 16th overall selection.

In my opinion, on the practice field at the Senior Bowl, Kerrigan looked underwhelming for a player that was supposed to be a first round pick. However, after watching game film there is one word that comes to mind when talking about Kerrigan and that is tenacity. He has a motor that never quits and he manages to diagnose plays very well to put himself in the right spot to make the plays.

Kerrigan has enough size and speed to be an every-downs defensive end in a 4-3 defense. His burst off the line is strong and he often gets the first step on the opposing offensive lineman. He has the ability to rush from either side of the line and is very strong at the point of attack.

The main reason why Kerrigan still doesn’t warrant the 16th overall selection in my mind is that he seems to lack the elite athleticism required to be one of the better pass rushers in the league. He tends to get pushed wide of the quarterback because he often relies on an outside speed rush with not very many other moves. As such, in the NFL he may be required to exclusively play on the right side of the defensive line which deminishes his value a little bit.

Gene Smith has shown interest in Kerrigan, but unless he shows very impressive numbers at the scouting combine and/or his pro day, he’s only a draft candidate, in my opinion if the Jaguars trade down to later in the first round.