We make a lot of predictions in this business, and most of them turn out to be worth less than the bandwidth they occupy. But one I felt pretty good about when I submitted it last month was Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan as NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He's off to a good start, as the Redskins announced Thursday morning that he's been named the league's defensive rookie of the month for September. From the team's official release:
For the month, the 16th overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft registered 13 tackles (five solo), five quarterback pressures, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two passes defensed and one interception returned for a touchdown. He has started all three games this season at the left outside linebacker position for the Redskins.
The issues with Kerrigan as a rookie coming into the year were (a) whether he could make the transition from defensive end, which he played in college, to stand-up outside linebacker and (b) whether he could handle coverage responsibilities. The latter is a work in progress, but Kerrigan learned quickly how to get a quick jump into the backfield from a two-point stance, and his raw pass-rushing ability has been a major asset to the Redskins from the get-go. The reason I liked him to win the award was because I thought he'd been placed in a scheme and a position (on the opposite side from the outstanding Brian Orakpo, who will draw coverage his way) from which he could pile up eye-popping defensive stats -- specifically sacks.
The Redskins saw Kerrigan as a high-impact draft pick and an immediate-impact draft pick, and to this point he has been both. Assuming he stays healthy, and given the position in which he finds himself, there's no reason to expect him not to continue to impress.