This summer, the National Football Post is breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.
The Purdue Boilermakers finished in the bottom half of the Big Ten standings each of the past two years and look to be lacking considerable talent in 2009. They feature a pair of prospects who could go in the draft on the defensive line, but the cupboard looks bare beyond that.
Note: Running back Jaycen Taylor will return to the Boilermakers after missing last season with a torn ACL. Taylor, who averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in 2006 and 2007 showcases the ability to not only catch the ball out of the backfield, but also create some big plays in the run game. He’s a guy worth keeping an eye on this season, if he can prove that his knee is 100 percent healthy.
Ryan Kerrigan: No. 94, DE, 6'4'', 263
He isn’t a real, natural bender, and he has a tendency to get too upright off the ball. He lacks an explosive first step, but times up the snap count well and gets on top of opposing linemen quickly. He doesn’t display the burst to consistently reach the corner and struggles dropping his pad level when flattening out along the edge.
However, he does a nice job using his hands to keep offensive tackles off his frame and showcases the short-area quickness to create separation on his counter move. He struggles lowering his pad level once he gains a step and doesn’t close quickly on the football.
Kerrigan does do a nice job staying at home versus misdirection plays, and he uses his long arms to keep himself clean on the outside when making his way toward the ball. However, he isn’t really physical at the point of attack and struggles playing with natural leverage on contact. He also consistently allows offensive linemen to get under his pad level and walk him away from the play.
He exhibits a good motor in pursuit, and he works hard in all areas of the game, but lacks straight-line speed and isn’t a particularly gifted athlete in space. However, he does play until the whistle and possesses the willingness to simply wear down the man in front of him. He rarely wins a battle on pure physical ability, but if there’s an effort sack to be made, he will make it.
Impression: Kerrigan relies on his hands and overall intensity to make plays as a pass rusher. He isn’t overly explosive or physical in any area of the game, but his motor and work rate will at least give him a shot at the next level.
Mike Neal: No. 92, DT, 6'3'', 300
He fires off the ball low and plays with the base strength and natural leverage to hold the point of attack inside. He uses his hands well to cleanly shed blocks one-vs.-one, and he showcases the range to make plays away from his frame. He also exhibits a good motor in pursuit, and has impressive closing speed toward the ball.
However, he isn’t as effective when asked to beat slide-down blocks and struggles disengaging from linemen on the move. He allows opposing blockers to get into his body and consistently gets hung up when trying to make his way outside.
He does do a great job keeping his pad level down through contact as a pass rusher, and he possesses the lower-body strength to simply bull-rush offensive linemen into the backfield. He demonstrates a good first step off the ball and has the ability to get into opposing blockers quickly and simply overwhelm them at the point of attack.
However, he’s a bit of a straight-line athlete and lacks the agility to quickly change directions and slip blocks laterally as a pass rusher. He isn’t much of a threat to shoot gaps inside, and once his initial push is stalled, he doesn’t showcase much in the form of a counter move.
Impression: He's an impressive athlete who showcases good power when asked to hold the point of attack inside. He lacks the ability to consistently penetrate, but knows how to push the pocket and drive his way into the backfield. He isn’t ever going to be a play maker in the NFL, but he does look like a strong rotational guy who possesses some starter potential.
David Pender: No. 9, CB, 6'0'', 178
Pender isn’t afraid to get in the face of receivers and use his length to be physical off the line. However, he has a tendency to get overextended with his footwork and struggles remaining balanced in press coverage. He is consistently forced to bail out of his drop early and open his hips in a trail technique when he doesn’t get a proper bump into his man.
He has a tendency to get too high in his drop, and he's slow getting out of his breaks and closing on plays laterally. He is an above-average, straight-line athlete for his size and does a nice job tracking the football down the field. Yet, he lacks ideal awareness and struggles adjusting his body and high pointing the play.
Impression: He's a tall, thin corner with decent straight-line speed and physicality off the line. However, he lacks ideal balance in coverage, and he struggles at keeping his feet under him when asked to close on the football. He also lacks the closing burst out of his breaks to be a much of a factor in coverage at the next level.