When I watched Purdue defensive lineman Ryan Kerrigan, I didn’t see a LEO pass rusher on tape. He played in the 260lbs range in college and was a fun player to watch – relentless, maximum effort and big time production (32 sacks between 2008-10).
Even so, he never flashed a consistent burst off the line or pure edge speed. He looked like an effort guy playing with OLB size. The way he performed lent itself to the right end position in an orthodox 4-3, but not necessarily Seattle’s unorthodox LEO.
He added weight before the combine, showed up at nearly 270lbs and honestly – I didn’t expect a good forty time. Then he ran an eye catching official 4.71, but has also been clocked in the late 4.6’s. You can’t ignore those numbers because according to the times, he’s not a great deal slower than more obvious LEO candidates like Brooks Reed, Robert Quinn and Jabal Sheard.
Scouts tend to pay more attention to the ten-yard split posted by defensive lineman, because essentially they aren’t going to be running forty yards very often in a game. Do they have a quick burst? Will they be able to get out of a stance and explode? The National Football Post had this article in 2009 on the subject:
“The 10-yard split is a vital time gauge for every position in the NFL, but it’s arguably more important for edge pass rushers than other positions. Pure pass-rushing specialists who rely on their first step to gain an advantage on offensive tackles need to display explosive first-step quickness out of the stance. Therefore, the timing of a pass rusher’s 10-yard split is an excellent indicator of how quickly he can explode off the ball and cover the ground needed to get after the quarterback.”
The article lists some of the faster ten-yard splits from the 2009 draft class, with Clay Matthews unsurprisingly listed at the top. What did surprise me was the time they gave – 1.49 seconds. I haven’t seen that time paired with Matthews before and I was under the impression he ran a 1.58. The article itself describes anything over 1.6 seconds as ‘average’, yet most of the 2011 class posted times in that range.
Indeed the general information for ten-yard splits appears inconsistent and tough to diagnose. In doing research for this piece I noted Ryan Kerrigan listed with a 1.61, a 1.64 and a 1.65. I’ve seen Brooks Reed credited with a 1.58 and a 1.62. Chris Long (Kerrigan is tentatively compared to Long) is given a 1.53 in 2009 by the NFP piece which seems a bit too quick.
Surely there has to be a better way of tracking all this information officially? It’d certainly be more helpful to judge these guys and compare.
Let’s give Kerrigan the benefit of the doubt and say he ran a 1.61. Do you buy into his potential based on the relentless approach and the college production? He’s not a slouch off the edge, but he’s certainly more effort than pure speed.
To see Kerrigan’s combine work out, click here.
Game tape vs Ohio State courtesy of the brilliant Aaron Aloysius: