Mike Shanahan selected 21 players in the 2011 and 2012 drafts, and the 17 who remain on the roster are set to enter a critical stage in their development. In the coming weeks, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a look at what those players have accomplished thus far and what they still must do in order to solidify their status in the NFL.
Who: Ryan Kerrigan
Position: Outside linebacker
Draft year/round/pick: 2011/1/16th
Career to date: Since joining the Redskins three seasons ago, Kerrigan has been an impact player and a durable one, starting all 48 regular games.
Kerrigan’s statistics, meantime, suggest that he’s also been consistent, though both he and his coaches say he has yet to reach his full potential, particularly as a pass rusher.
As a rookie, Kerrigan registered 7.5 sacks. As a sophomore, he notched 8.5 sacks (and a team-leading 50 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com), despite facing additional attention from opposing offenses due to Brian Orakpo’s absence. That season, Kerrigan also earned his first Pro Bowl bid, leading some analysts to predict a huge year for the Purdue product in 2013.
It didn’t happen. Instead, Kerrigan had to settle for another solid campaign. He notched a career-high 66 tackles and forced four fumbles, equaling his career best. But after recording 6.5 sacks in the first seven games, the 25-year-old managed just two the rest of the way.
Although he refused to make excuses during the season, he was limited the final 13 contests after tearing the meniscus in his left knee in Week 3. Earlier this month, Kerrigan had arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear.
Outlook for 2014: Kerrigan has been one of the Redskins’ most consistent performers—on either side of the ball—the past three years. There’s no disputing that. But as we mentioned earlier, there’s a sense inside Redskins Park that with more experience he’ll put up even better numbers.
And when you’re talking about an outside linebacker, you’re talking about sacks.
At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, Kerrigan possesses all the physical tools to become a top-10 pass rusher (which last season meant 11 or more sacks.) He’s also got the work ethic and football acumen to it.
But is he willing to hone his craft, get creative and add new moves to his repertoire? Can new outside linebackers coach Brian Baker coax more out of Kerrigan? Those are the questions everyone will be asking as he enters his fourth season.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett recently said he believes Baker will help both Kerrigan and Orakpo take the next step in their development. And for Kerrigan, that means reaching double digits in sacks.