Thursday, April 28, 2011

A first look at Ryan Kerrigan

I make no pretense of being a draftnik, so I'm not going to try to convince you that I've spent the last few months down in my bunker breaking down film on college players and have a detailed opinion on the Redskins new first round pick Ryan Kerrigan. I do, however, have an internet connection and therefore have easy access to the opinions of folks who do make use of such bunkers, so let's take a look at some of the highlights of the various online scouting reports and find examples to illustrate why I have somewhat mixed (thought mostly positive) feelings about this pick.
We'll draw from four of the better online draft sources I am aware of, all of which are worth reading in full: NFL Draft Countdown, Doug Farrar on Shutdown Corner, CBS Sports, and Draft Breakdown.

Some pros and cons:

Pro: Despite the fact that white guys routinely have this particular trait played up, there is a consensus that he really is a "high effort guy."

   CBS: “Off-the-charts work ethic on the field and weight room”

 Countdown: "Superb leadership qualities and amazing work ethic"

 Breakdown: "a football coach’s dream. Coachable, hard working, clean on and off the field"

"Amazing." "Coach's dream." Strong words indeed.  The notion of "character" tends to be badly overrated by the media, but just because something is overrated doesn't mean it isn't important. So such glowing evaluations can only be a good thing.

Con: He's really a 4-3 defensive end.

   Countdown: "May lack fluid hips and is unproven in coverage"

 Countdown again: "Ability to play on feet in space is a question mark"

 Shutdown: "Uses his low stance as leverage to explode up and forward” (This, of course, is neutralized by standing him up as an OLB)

So for all his considerable merits, after adding Ke rrigan the Redskins would still have a more effective front seven by just letting these guys play a 4-3.

Pro: He probably won't be a liability against the run.

   CBS: "Intelligent, assignment-sure run defender”

   Shutdown: “a very good eye for misdirection - doesn't get fooled a lot on traps and counters”

   Breakdown: "a fundamentally sound tackler”

Although I am of course strongly in favor of sound tackling, it's the first two points there that I feel best about. If Kerrigan starts as a rookie, the man he will replace (Lorenzo Alexander) was extremely prone to losing discipline, jumping inside, and then getting exploited on those traps and counters. In fact the entire Redskins defense was often not where they needed to be, so a little discipline against the run could be a big help.

Pro: The pass rush ability is real

   CBS: “Provides secondary rush, keeps his eyes in the backfield and will chase down quarterbacks if they hang onto the ball too long”

   Shutdown: “Changes offensive gameplans in that a blocking back is often required to take him out as he gets around the tackle.” - (So if you're a running back, do you keep an eye on Brian Orakpo or Kerrigan?)

   Countdown: "Able to get around the edge and run the arch... Strong, powerful and an outstanding bull rusher... Has a wide array of moves in pass rush repertoire"

Con (but not really): He may have limited upside

   Breakdown: “He may be the type of player that is very good at everything, but great at nothing”  

This is a common theme among all commentators. But in general, that is exactly the type of player I would prefer to see the Redskins take, especially since having this first round pick bust would badly set back Mike Shanahan's rebuilding process. A guy who is guaranteed to be good is quite a luxury, and I will generally be happy to let other teams gamble on finding a superstar. I am the sort who prefers a municipal bond to a lotter ticket.

So I am pretty happy with Kerrigan as a player, though I will admit some reservations. I really preferred a defensive end for a couple of reasons, which I will go into in a later post in which I discuss Kerrigan's impact on the Redskins front seven. But the fact that the Redskins managed to get a reliably good player while still being able to trade down and pick up a potentially very valuable second round pick means I have to feel pretty good about how this first round went.

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