Heading into the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins knew they had to address a defense that struggled mightily in its transition from a 4-3 scheme to the first 3-4 scheme in franchise history. With so much talk surrounding the team potentially selecting a quarterback with their top pick, the team took advantage of the media hype by moving back from 10th overall to 16th overall and acquiring another second round pick, which was parlayed into even more picks later on.
With their 3-4 defense faltering miserably in 2010, the idea of the Redskins taking a QB in the first round didn’t seem realistic, especially with a draft class that many considered to be mediocre. Too much help was needed on the defensive side of the ball, but the Jacksonville Jaguars took the bait and made a trade with the Redskins to take Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Recent history indicates that the Redskins are known for having bad drafts after the first few rounds, in part due to their propensity to dispose of those later picks like toilet paper. Despite that, the Redskins do tend to hit on their first round picks and this year
doesn’t appear like it will be any different.
With the selection of Ryan Kerrigan out of Purdue, who is known for his high motor and strong work ethic, the team gets a converted defensive end who will line up opposite of 2009 first round pick Brian Orakpo, and hopefully create one of the best outside linebacking duos in the NFL.
Kerrigan’s on-field production at Purdue seems to stem primarily from effort and attentiveness rather than simply pure natural athletic ability. He’s had to work hard to get to where he’s at. Intensity and passion are not taught, so the fact that those are two of his best attributes are a huge positive for him going into his first Redskins training camp. His blue-collar identity will bode well in the locker room.
Heading into the draft, Kerrigan wanted to make himself more appealing to all 32 NFL teams despite playing in a 4-3 scheme at Purdue. He expressed a willingness to adjust to any scheme that he was drafted into, and that, combined with his showing at the combine, appealed to head coach Mike Shanahan.
For his career, Kerrigan has tallied 210 total tackles, 33.5 sacks, one interception and 57 tackles for a loss. Perhaps the most impressive stat that he holds is the Big Ten record of 14 career forced fumbles, which also ties the NCAA record.
The Redskins, while giving up more total yards in their switch to the 3-4, also improved in turnovers from 17 total in 2009 (dead last in the league) to 27 (0.1 above the league average) in 2010. Kerrigan’s nose for the ball will only be beneficial to a defense trying to find an identity.
With the end of the lockout nearing, Redskins fans can start to get excited about their first look at Kerrigan at training camp. He’ll be one of the premier players to watch at Redskins Park and throughout the 2011 season.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Jake Russell