Ryan Kerrigan: The Start of a New Washington Redskins Era

Matt JamesContributor IISeptember 10, 2011

Ryan Kerrigan pushes past an offensive lineman
Ryan Kerrigan pushes past an offensive linemanLarry French/Getty Images

Ryan Kerrigan was the Washington Redskins' 2011 first-round draft pick out of Purdue. This electrifying 6'4", 263-pound locomotive is one of the most anticipated breakout players for the new face of the youthful Washington team. Under the reformations of head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, Kerrigan was converted from a defensive lineman to an outside linebacker. 

The team’s 3-4 defense has been the primary focus of coach Shanahan since arriving to Washington for the 2010-11 season, but it has not come without its own trials and tribulations. In the past, frustrations have developed from prima donna players, such as former Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth. Extravagant contracts and a lack of unit cohesion caused a fractured defense that Shanahan appears to have worked hard in the offseason to amend. 

Ryan Kerrigan’s accomplishments in the past are impressive, to say the least. While at Purdue, he was an AFCA First Team All-American, Walter Camp Football Foundation First Team All-American, FWAA First Team All-American, AP First-Team All-American, as well as the coveted Sports Illustrated First Team All-American. His ability to track, seek and destroy players in the backfield led to more than 12 sacks in 2010 and 26 tackles for a loss. 

In the 2011 preseason, Kerrigan showed grit and proved his ability to adapt. Aside from some offside penalties, the former Purdue defensive lineman showed acumen adaptability in moving from a three- or four-point stance to the linebacker’s two-point stance. He appeared to have little trouble performing at a pro level and easily pushed past experienced offensive lineman, who worked hard to contain the young and upcoming star. It also helps that Kerrigan is at work with another former DL, now OLB, Brian Orapko. This new dynamic and explosive duo is sure to provide many fireworks for the entirety of the season. 

It is hard to recall a Redskins team that is this young and motivated. Many NFL pundits and analysts have written off the Washington Redskins as being in another rebuilding cycle. But with the addition of players like Ryan Kerrigan, and playing in an unproven NFC East, it is not entirely impossible to imagine a playoff birth for this youthful and vibrant new team. 


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