The phrase, "He looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane," will never be uttered when scouts describe Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. Most scouts have used a much more colorful combination of adjectives. Some have called him a beast. Or monster.
At 6 feet, 4 inches and 263 pounds, Kerrigan, with his chiseled physique and relentless motor, first caught the attention of scouts with a breakout junior season during which he recorded 66 tackles, 18.5 for a loss and 13 sacks. But his game has evolved even more and the senior has helped the Boilermakers begin the season with a 2-1 record.
|Ryan Kerrigan is currently the fifth-rated DE by NFLDraftScout.com, but expect that to change. (US Presswire)|
"When I watch him play, the first name that comes to mind is Chris Long," the scout said. "They have a similar body type, the same relentless pursuit and the ability to beat anyone that lines up in front of them strictly on hard work. He's not only a great pass rusher, he's very good against the run. His best quality is that he never stops. That's a quality that will come through on tape, in workouts and during interviews. Don't be surprised if he enjoys a Long-like rise on draft boards this offseason."
A three-year starter at Purdue, Kerrigan has been a durable, steady defender during his career. He made an immediate impact from the beginning, playing in 12 games as a freshman and from there, taking over as a starter. To date, Kerrigan ranks second in Purdue history in forced fumbles (11), fifth in sacks (24) and 11th in tackles for loss (39.5).
As the college football calendar turns to Week 4 of the 2010 season, Kerrigan is currently NFLDraftScout.com's fifth-rated senior defensive end behind, in order, Ohio State's Cameron Heyward, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, Allen Bailey of Miami (Fla.) and Mississippi State's Pernell McPhee. It won't be long until Kerrigan breaks into NDS' top three at his position, as through three weeks he leads the aforementioned group in every major statistical category: tackles (24), tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (3).
Kerrigan received a third-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board after the 2009 season. He understands that scouts look at more than just a player's statistics when they project them to the next level. But, prior to the '10 season, Kerrigan sat down with the coaching staff and reviewed his film from last season. While Kerrigan had a breakout season in '09, he discovered that it could have been even better.
"We went back and looked at the film and I missed 12 sacks that I should have had last year," Kerrigan said. "I should have had over 20 sacks, but I missed them. So, I worked on taking better angles to the quarterback [during the offseason] and make sure I wrap up and hold on."
So far, Kerrigan has held on, and the hard work that he put in is paying off. The work ethic that Kerrigan demonstrated over the summer didn't surprise Purdue coach Danny Hope, who is in his second year as head coach in West Lafayette; it just signified the leadership qualities and determination Kerrigan possesses to be great.
"He's one of the better defensive line prospects I've seen in 30 years, and that's counting the guys I've coached and the guys I've coached against," Hope said. "He'll do all the things they need at the next level. He's a no-brainer."
Chris Steuber is a Draft Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange. E-mail Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ChrisSteuber.