Positives: Kerrigan has pretty good size and athleticism. He isn’t a freak athlete but he has an outstanding motor and never quits on a play. He has a quick first step and good edge speed, though I don’t think he has enough edge speed to stick at RE in the NFL. He is a good tackler, he pursues well from the backside because of his motor, and he was definitely one of the hardest workers on Purdue’s team which helped him become a leader of the team. He has a good straight line burst and does a good job of getting up-field to put himself in position to beat an OT off the edge. He has good hand usage and shows a pretty good swim/rip and spin move to beat blockers as well as a bull rush which is impressive considering he is only about 260 pounds. He has good instincts and plays smart, avoiding running himself out of plays and sets the edge well as a run defender.
Negatives: Kerrigan is a pretty good athlete but he seems a bit stiff to me. He doesn’t show the ability to dip his shoulder to get the edge and doesn’t seem to have much hip flexibility. This will hurt him when he tries to get around the edge in the NFL which further limits him to being a LE in a 4-3 in my opinion. There were rumors that he could play OLB in a 3-4 but I don’t think he is a fluid enough athlete to do that at all and I think his hips are too tight to ever flip his hips and not waste steps in coverage. He needs to get bigger and stronger to help him stand up versus the run and to help him get off blocks once he is engaged. He has good hand usage to shed but if he tries to play LE at 255 pounds in the NFL he will be overmatched regardless of his effort level. He definitely has the frame to add weight though. However, he probably won’t be ready to contribute outside of a situational role as a rookie even though he is fairly polished. He doesn’t have a really high upside however.
Overall: You know what you are getting with Kerrigan. He is a good athlete with a nice first step and good straight line speed but he loses speed when he changes direction. He should still apply pressure from LE in the NFL but I don’t think he will ever get 8-10 sacks in a season consistently. However, he has the potential to be an effective LE and be a consistent player at the position. He is a relatively finished product which limits his upside but it makes him more of a “safe” selection. But thanks to his work ethic and his non-stop motor you know you will get everything he has and that he will maximize his ability after you draft him. That makes me like him as a prospect even though he won’t be a dynamic pass rusher in the NFL.
Projection: Top 25. For a while it seemed like he might be a top 20 lock but ultimately upside wins out in the NFL draft and a “safe” player like Kerrigan will slide in favor of guys like Aldon Smith or Robert Quinn who are much bigger risks but are considered to have more “upside” because they are not yet developed. Whoever drafts Kerrigan will get a reliable defensive end at a position that is hard to get consistent production from.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Rush: 3.5
Point of Attack: 3.0
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