Aaron Wilson of National Football Post, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hosting Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan today at One Buc Place. Kerrigan is the reigning Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year.
Kerrigan is projected by many to go in the mid-teens in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Sources with the Bucs have told Pewter Report that they think Kerrigan won’t quite make it 20. Kerrigan had a very good day at the NFL Scouting Combine, and showed the athleticism to drop into coverage in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. Answering the question over his athleticism helped push Kerrigan's stock up.
In order to acquire Kerrigan the Buccaneers may have to trade up in the first round. The Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New England Patriots are all teams that have been linked to drafting Kerrigan ahead of Tampa Bay.
Last year Kerrigan had 12.5 sacks with 70 tackles, 26 tackles for a loss, and five forced fumbles. As a junior Kerrigan recorded 66 tackles with 13 sacks, 18.5 tackles for a loss, and seven forced fumbles. In his career Kerrigan totaled 210 tackles, 57 tackles for a loss, 33.5 sacks, one interception, seven passes batted down, and 14 forced fumbles. In his 33.5 career sacks he totaled 229 yards lost for offenses.
It is not secret that Kerrigan is one of the draft targets for Tampa Bay. The Bucs have a gaping hole at defensive end, and Kerrigan was a consistent pass rusher in college. If Kerrigan falls to the Bucs first-round pick it is likely that Tampa Bay would take him.
Sources with the Bucs have expressed their liking of Kerrigan dating back to the fall. Since the end of the college football season the Bucs have continued to express their affinity for Kerrigan. In recent weeks team staff have asked Pewter Report's editorial staff if they believe that Kerrigan will fall to the 20th overall pick.
It is significant that the Bucs are hosting Kerrigan. Over the last several years all of the Bucs first-round picks have been hosted on a pre-draft visit. Gaines Adams (2007), Aqib Talib (2008), Josh Freeman (2009), and Gerald McCoy (2010) all visited Tampa Bay in the weeks leading up to the Bucs drafting them. Other than Kerrigan the Bucs are hosting a few other potential first-round picks prior to the draft.
At 6-foot-3, 267-pound Kerrigan was able to stay consistent in his production despite extra attention via double-teams this past year. At the Senior Bowl he spoke with Pewter Report about that.
“I think it was a number of things,” said Kerrigan. “I worked really hard to get my body right and my mind right for the haul of the season knowing I’d have to play a lot, mostly every snap of every game. Two, I think we had a lot of good players around me. We had a defensive tackle that was a freshman All-American last year and he was a sophomore this year. We had other guys who are very good on the defensive line as well. It was a combination of things.”
Kerrigan was well coached at Purdue and is ready to make an impact in the NFL. The Boilermakers standout also has a reputation of being a hard worker and a high character individual that is a good locker room presence.
“I’ve had two position coaches at Purdue,” said Kerrigan. “I had Terrell Williams who is now at Texas A&M. I had him for my first three years and Gary Emmauel who was at Rutgers and coached previously with the 49ers. They both bring completely different aspects to the football game and I think having that balance of one coach vs. the other allowed me to have success my senior season.
“Coach Emmanuel is really big on hip flexibility and range of motion with your hips. That really allowed me to finish more plays off this season. Not just get close to making the sack but record the sack.”