Since the league and NFLPA decided to keep their mouths shut about the ongoing CBA negotiations, the NFL has become like an old west ghost town where seldom is a heard a discouraging word and the tumbleweeds tumble all day. So, in advance of the NFL Combine's start this Thursday, I thought we'd check out some draft prospects the Saints might be interested in. Or, draft prospects we might like for them to be interested in. Today we start with Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan.
It's probably safe to assume that defense should again be the focus of this year's draft. Particularly, DE, OLB, and DT are the positions at which most seem to think we could use an injection of young talent. I'd most like to see a more consistent pass rush, so I'm hoping the Saints draft the best DE available with their no. 24 pick. Scouts Inc. currently has Kerrigan rated at no. 24 in their top 32, so this coincidence in numbers makes him a good prospect to start with.
Some around CSC have already commented that we shouldn't forget about Ryan Kerrigan. I agree. He looks like a young player with lots of potential. He may require a year or two to develop into a full-time starter, though. But, most defensive linemen transitioning into the NFL have to endure a learning curve before becoming a dominant force. Well, maybe except for Ndamukong Suh. That guy is a freak!
On Kerrigan, Shutdown Corner says this:
In four seasons, Kerrigan totaled 210 tackles (134 solo), 32 solo sacks, and 50 solo tackles for loss. And he put up a freakish season in 2010 - 70 tackles (50 solo), 26 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and a pass defensed. Kerrigan won the Big Ten Defensive Player and Defensive Lineman of the Year awards (both voted on by the coaches), and is highly regarded as a team leader with an impressive work ethic.
In the 2011 Senior Bowl, after losing 10 pounds to show off his potential as a pure pass-rusher, he logged a sack and made Arkansas tackle DeMarcus Love look like an eighth-grader. Clearly, this is a guy looking to finish off any questions about his NFL potential, and from what I've seen, I think he'll wow a lot of people in the scouting combine's specific drills.
After listing his pros and cons, they go on to say this:
Conclusion: In the right system - either paired with an elite defensive tackle who can split the blocking load or as a pure "endbacker" in a five-man or hybrid front - Kerrigan has the potential to dominate. He's proven that he has the determination to succeed, and he could confirm what people saw on tape and at the Senior Bowl with a strong combine performance. I expect him to excel there; he should tear up the drills with his pure speed, first-step burst, and ability to turn the corner.
Would Gregg Williams' system be the right system for Kerrigan? Last month, James Varney at the Times-Picayune did a short profile on him:
The brunt of his work as a Boilermaker was as a traditional defensive lineman coming out of a stance. He listed a relentless approach and an ability to get to the passer as his strengths.
"I'm not going to disclose who I have and who I haven't (talked with)," Kerrigan said when asked if the Saints had approached him. "But I know they run a 4-3 defense, and I feel like I would fit in with them."
Oh yeah, did I also mention he and Drew Brees have the same alma mater? If he's available at no. 24, will Drew then jump on the phone to Payton and shout, "Take the Boilermaker!"