Has a nice first step, that does a nice job jumping and timing the snap. Shows some ability to dip the shoulder and shows good straight-line closing burst on the quarterback and ball. Has a good bull rush, that does a nice job getting his hands inside and under blocker's pads. Shows a decent counter move and spin move, and will also use the rip move on the edge to beat blocker. Works well on the inside stunt and can pancake the center. Uses his first step well when going against the guard, beating him with speed to his outside shoulder. Gets push upfield and is able to get leverage vs. the run and set the edge. Can make the stop at the point of attack, as well as laterally on the backside pursuit. Is able to rush with his hand off the ground and show decent burst off the corner. Does a nice job sniffing out the bubble screen and gets his hands up to bat down passes. Plays with a high motor and doesn't stop until the whistle blows.
Doesn't have the ideal short-area burst to really turn the corner, and hasn't quite mastered the shoulder dip to get around tackle. Doesn't make a ton of plays in pursuit and space, and not as effective when he plays with his hand off the ground. Less effective when he lines up inside as well. Too easily chipped by the running back or tight end. Doesn't always dominate lesser competition, and won't always win battles when teams leave him on an island against running backs in blitz pickup. Can get pushed around, especially by bigger linemen and when working against the double team.
A super-productive player the past two seasons as a three-year starter at Purdue. He led nation in tackles for loss as a senior, but was able to combine for 25.5 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss over his last two years. He also combined for 136 tackles, 12 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. As a sophomore, he had 56 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception. Kerrigan was listed around 265 at Purdue, but showed up at the Senior Bowl at 255, which I'm guessing had to do with the fact that he wanted to show teams what he could do at linebacker for prospective 3-4 teams. He continues a long line of quality NFL pass rushers hailing from Purdue with guys like Chike Okeafor, Rosevelt Colvin, Shaun Phillips, Ray Edwards, Rob Ninkovich, Anthony Spencer, and Cliff Avril all making waves in the NFL over the past decade.
Kerrigan is a player that despite his production, I don't think is going to come into the league and be a dominant player right away. But he's a guy that should have a long NFL career, and be a nice, solid complementary pass rusher for a long time. He just doesn't have the ideal burst and speed to be a dominant edge rusher. And he wasn't as dominant as I would have liked to see him when he was facing lesser competition and mid-round talent. But his solid technique, array of pass rush moves, and high motor should allow him to be productive and contribute early on. I think his upside is something like a Chris Long, who was a similar player. Long didn't make a ton of plays his first two years, but has started to develop into a productive pass rusher in his third year. Kerrigan is a guy that I think ultimately can be an 8-10 sack guy down the road, but for most of his career, he's more likely to be a 5-8 sack guy. If he plays opposite a quality speed rusher, he'll be more effective. He'll be better at left end because he doesn't have the elite speed to be a major matchup problem for most quality NFL left tackles. His bull rush is his best weapon and with that he can be a productive guy. I think his good technique means he can contribute as a role player right away, but it would not surprise me if in his first two or so years, he's not doing much more than 2-4 sacks a year. But he's a guy that once he fills out his frame better and gets around 265-275 range, polishes up his technique a bit more, and gets comfortable in the league, he should start to take off. I think because of his motor, the 10-sack season isn't completely out of the question, as he'll be even more productive if he's playing on a defense with good corners, which will allow him to pad his totals with coverage sacks. He'll be a good starter, but he's a guy that probably will only rarely take over a game and will need other good pass rushers around him to maximize his skill. He can also play some linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but I don't think he's as athletically blessed to really shine in that scheme. He'll be more of a complementary starter in the Jarret Johnson-mold than a big time pass rusher like a Terrell Suggs.
Kerrigan is a nice fit at left end for the Falcons. If he can bulk back up, he can be a solid everydown player there eventually, and take over for Jamaal Anderson on run downs but also have the ability to play on passing downs. Initially, he can contribute in the rotation, but he's not a guy that is going to give the team a ton of production right away either as a pass rusher or run defender. Ultimately, he's a player that is closer to Kroy Biermann than John Abraham, in that he can provide pressure, but isn't going to dominate a game. Ultimately he might be able to develop as a productive starter for the Falcons three or more years down the road, and be a nice 8-sack guy eventually. He'll help the Falcons pass rush by giving them a more productive every down left end than either Biermann or Anderson, but he's not going to be the guy that really inherits Abraham's role as the guy that puts the fear in opposing offenses on a weekly basis.
Because pass rushers are at such a high premium, it's not crazy to think that Kerrigan will sneak into the latter part of the first round. He's got a high floor, but his ceiling isn't all that high, which means he's more in line with talent you'd take in the first half of the second round rather than a guy that is going to be as productive as other first round picks.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Rush: 4.0
Point of Attack: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.