Rookie Watch: Kerrigan, Tyron Smith

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
11:04
AM ET
Our man Matt Williamson updates his "Rookie Watch" every week, and while the Broncos' Von Miller has had something of a stranglehold on the top spot so far, a couple of NFC East rookies have worked their way up in the rankings as the season has unfolded.

Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for September, comes in at No. 4 on this week's list. Matt had Kerrigan at No. 3 last week, but Bengals receiver A.J. Green jumped him after a big week for Cincinnati while Kerrigan was on bye. Here's what Matt has to say about Kerrigan:
Kerrigan helps make up one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the league. And it might only be getting better -- especially with the Eagles and their protection woes coming to town in Week 6.

I think, given the situation in which the Redskins' defense puts him to succeed and rack up sack numbers, Kerrigan has a pretty good chance to pass Miller on this list by season's end. I just don't think he'll pass Cam Newton.

Coming in at No. 6 on this week's list is Dallas Cowboys right tackle Tyron Smith, who was No. 8 last week and managed to move up two spots without even playing. Matt's review of Smith:
He is extremely impressive and could be a crucial cog this week in New England against the Patriots' hapless pass defense. There could be fireworks in that game.

Smith has been an absolute revelation in Dallas. There was talk in training camp that he had the physical ability to handle the job but that his footwork needed help. They gave him extra work on the side after practice with that, and it seems to have paid off. The only remaining questions about Smith in Dallas now seem to be when he'll take over the left tackle spot from Doug Free.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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