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Washington Redskins

Stadium: FedEx Field | Coach: Jay Gruden
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense13th105.7 (19th)252.9 (11th)
Defense20th107.6 (12th)249.4 (24th)

Can Kerrigan duplicate Orakpo's success?

The Sports Xchange
 
Can Kerrigan duplicate Orakpo's success? · Strategy And Personnel · Notes, Quotes
 

The Redskins traded down six spots and still ended up with an elite pass rusher in Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, who was second in the nation during his career with 33.5 sacks and is the all-time leader with 14 forced fumbles.

While most draft experts considered Kerrigan a defensive end, his position in college, the Redskins believe that he can make the same transition to outside linebacker that fellow All-American Brian Orakpo did in 2009. Orakpo, their first-rounder that year, was chosen for the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons.

"One of the things that I was first impressed with was some of the drill work (Ryan) did in Indy," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, referring to February's scouting combine. "A lot of times when you take a defensive end who's been in a three-point stance most of his career and you have him do linebacker-related drills, it takes him a while to get going, (but Ryan) was very athletic, very agile. We think he can make the conversion quickly.

"He fits into our system extremely well," continued Shanahan, whose defense was the NFL's second-worst in 2010. "He can play the run and the pass. He's a blue-collar player. He plays extremely hard. He's a very smart guy, an academic All-American. He's got some football intelligence."

A pass rusher to complement Orakpo became essential after no other Redskin had more than 2.5 sacks last season. Lorenzo Alexander, a former defensive lineman, started at the spot where Kerrigan figures to line up in 2011.

"We needed somebody opposite Rak," Shanahan said. "You would like to have another dominating pass rusher on the other side. He can beat tight ends, backs, tackles. He's relentless."

The 6-4, 263-pound Kerrigan hit the ground running as a freshman in 2007, recording 18 tackles (12 solos) and a sack in his college debut. He finished strong, too, leading the nation with 26 tackles for losses and the Big Ten with 12.5 sacks.

"It's awesome to hear coach Shanahan to say congrats on becoming a Redskin," Kerrigan said. "I'll never forget that moment. ... I feel like with my pass-rush skills and my ability I can make that transition to outside linebacker. (Orakpo's) one of the top linebackers in the league. I remember watching him (at Texas) and thinking what a beast he was and I hope to emulate him. I'm versatile. I play hard and I play physical. I'm athletic and I can make plays. At Purdue, we really emphasize getting the ball out and being disruptive."

The trade with Jacksonville, which dropped the Redskins from 10th to 16th, gained them a second second-round choice (49th overall), and gave them nine picks in the draft. Washington doesn't have a choice in the third or fourth rounds but has two in the fifth and three in the seventh. It also kept Shanahan's streak going at 16 consecutive drafts in which he hasn't stayed pat. The first 14 were with Denver.

"We felt very fortunate (that Kerrigan was still available after the trade)," said Shanahan, who said that the Jaguars called when the Redskins had about six minutes left on the clock. "It doesn't always work out that way. Jacksonville wanted a quarterback and it was a perfect scenario for us."

--Mike Shanahan's second Redskins draft will be remembered for his five trades with which he added 50 percent more picks, going from eight to 12.

Washington added high-profile players to fill its holes at outside linebacker, defensive end and receiver in the first three rounds and added two accomplished running backs in the fourth and sixth, but never took a quarterback or offensive tackle despite problems at those spots.

BEST PICK

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan: The Redskins believe that Kerrigan can make the same transition from All-American defensive end to Pro Bowl outside linebacker that Brian Orakpo did in 2009.

COULD SURPRISE

Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson: A prototypical big receiver, the third-rounder topped such NFL standouts as Michael Irvin, Andre Johnson and Santana Moss, a free agent whose job he could take, to be the Hurricanes' career leader in receiving yardage. Shanahan raved about his hands.

A closer look at the Redskins' picks:

Round 1/16 -- Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, 6-4, 263, Purdue

Led the nation in forced fumbles as a junior and topped the Big Ten in sacks in 2008 and 2010. He could be the force Redskins lacked opposite Orakpo last season.

Round 2/41 -- Jarvis Jenkins, DE, 6-4, 309, Clemson

The powerful Jenkins, a self-described run-stopper, will play defensive end in the Redskins' 3-4 scheme. He'll at least compete to start at the right end spot filled last year by Kedric Golston, who's a free agent.

Round 3/79 -- Leonard Hankerson, WR, 6-2, 205, Miami

Could help make up Washington whiffing on big receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly in the second round in 2008.

Round 4/105 -- Roy Helu Jr., RB, 5-11, 216, Nebraska

One of just six backs in Nebraska history to run for 3,000 yards, Helu has experience in a running scheme akin to Washington's. Helu, who runs 40 yards in 4.42 seconds, said he's best at cutting once and going. He'll push inexperienced holdovers Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams for playing time.

Round 5/146 -- DeJon Gomes, SS, 6-0, 200, Nebraska

A strong safety and outside linebacker in college, Gomes has been told that he'll play inside in Washington's nickel and dime package. If he can prove himself on special teams, he could take a backup spot from holdovers Reed Doughty, Chris Horton or Kareem Moore.

Round 5/155 -- Niles Paul, WR, 6-1, 224, Nebraska

Washington's third straight pick from Nebraska, Paul is fifth in receiving yards and sixth in catches in school history but also did plenty of blocking for Helu, returned punts and kicks and covered kicks. The Redskins need receivers.

Round 6/177 -- Evan Royster, RB, 6-1, 213, Penn State

Penn State has had plenty of great running backs including Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti, Curt Warner, Ki-Jana Carter and Larry Johnson, but three-time All-Big 10 pick Royster is its all-time leading rusher.

Round 6/178 -- Aldrick Robinson, WR, 5-10, 178, Southern Methodist

Second all-time in receiving yards and fourth in catches at SMU, Robinson is third in line behind fellow rookies Hankerson and Paul for playing time.

Round 7/213 -- Brandyn Thompson, CB, 5-9, 189, Boise State

Second-team All-WAC selection in 2010 was 2009 Fiesta Bowl's top defensive player. Might parlay special teams experience to win roster job.

Round 7/217 -- Maurice Hurt, G, 6-3, 318, Florida

Started at right tackle, right guard and left guard as a senior, the year he played his most for Gators. As first offensive lineman drafted by Washington, Hurt has chance to compete for backup job.

Round 7/224 -- Markus White, OLB, 6-4, 266, Florida State

The JUCO Player of Year in 2008, college end will move to outside linebacker in Washington's 3-4 system. Takes medication to deal with seizures.

Round 7/253 -- Chris Neild, NT, 6-2, 319, West Virginia

Run-stopper will get shot at nose tackle where he started last three years. Mountaineers were second in nation in rush defense and sacks in 2010.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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