The Washington Redskins’ recent draft history has produced few impact players. This is due to the organization’s penchant for trading high draft picks for past-their-prime superstars that rarely pan out. It’s a method that has contributed towards many a losing season for the Redskins.
However, one of Washington’s better draft selections has been left outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Selected 16th overall in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, Kerrigan has been a pillar of consistency for the Redskins, starting every game on defense since joining the team. He is a relentless defender who gives maximum effort from snap to whistle on every play. He also has a knack for jumping up and deflecting the passes of opposing quarterbacks, which serve to effectively disrupt the opponent’s offensive rhythm.
Kerrigan’s contribution on defense was critical to a unit that struggled with injuries and consistency in 2012. He led the Redskins with 8.5 sacks, eight passes defense, as well as returning his only interception in 2012 for a 28 yard touchdown. These statistics suggest that Kerrigan has the ability to become a game changing force for Washington on defense.
Kerrigan’s stellar 2012 season was overshadowed by the exploits of quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris. He will benefit greatly from the return of right outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who had his 2012 season shortened by a right triceps injury. It’s best that Kerrigan continues to shine in relative obscurity. Orakpo was one of Washington’s most consistent defenders, earning 28.5 sacks in his first three seasons in Washington before suffering his injury. Orakpo’s sack total dictates that opposing offenses must account for his pass rushing prowess, perhaps in the form of double team blocking. This would place Kerrigan in more one on one blocking opportunities on the left side.
Redskins’ fans hope Kerrigan will continue his solid effort in the team’s efforts to improve on defense. Maybe Kerrigan can sustain his career momentum and help Redskins’ fans realize that he is the future of the Washington defense. In the short term, Washington hopes he can continue to progress into a great all around defender. If Kerrigan can do that, the Redskins’ chances of building on their 2012 season increase dramatically.