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Is Ryan Kerrigan “elite”?

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Let’s compare Kerrigan to two other great defensive players, Von Miller and Khalil Mack, and see how he stacks up

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskin Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Three Kerrigan articles today:

Redskins Iron Man - Ryan Kerrigan

Every play by Ryan Kerrigan vs Green Bay

Is Ryan Kerrigan “elite”?

This article was co-written by James Dorsett and Bill-in-Bangkok. James did all the hard work of researching all the statistics that appear in the article, despite having to work against a dual deadline to get out two Snaps & Stats articles this week.

I’m afraid that my written analysis of the numbers isn’t to the same standard that you’ve all no doubt become accustomed to in the Snaps & Stats articles, but I prefer for readers and commenters to draw their own conclusions anyway.

I hope you enjoy this statistical review of Ryan Kerrigan’s career and comparison to two of his contemporaries who are acknowledged as the best in the game today. I further hope this article opens up some eyes to the incredible talent and salary-cap value that Kerrigan has represented to the Redskins franchise.

Khalil Mack overview

Khalil Mack was the 5th overall pick in the 2014 draft; he is 27 years old and has been in the NFL for 4 seasons.

Seattle Seahawks v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

September 1, 2018 Khalil Mack signed a 6 year extension with the Chicago Bears. Based on a report from Profootballtalk. The extension is worth $141 million with $60 million guaranteed at signing with $90 million in total guarantees. That’s an APY of $23.5m.

Von Miller overview

Von Miller was drafted #2 overall in 2011; he is 29 years old and has been in the NFL for 7 seasons.

Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Photo by Bart Young/Getty Images

According to OverTheCap, The Broncos and Von Miller agreed to a six year, $114.5 million contract on July 15, 2016. Per Mike Klis, Miller received $70 million in guarantees, $42 million of which is guaranteed upon signing. That is an APY of $19.08m.

Ryan Kerrigan overview

Ryan Kerrigan was selected 14 picks after Von Miller in 2011, taken #16 overall. He is 30 years old and has been in the NFL for 7 seasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Washington Redskins Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

OverTheCap reports that Ryan Kerrigan signed a five year contract extension worth $57.5 million with the Redskins on July 30, 2015. Kerrigan received a $16 million signing bonus. His 2015 and 2016 salaries are fully guaranteed to bring the full guarantee on the contract to $23.788 million. His APY is $11.5m.

Top salaries for 3-4 OLB

OverTheCap reports on salaries for all NFL players, including information about the top-paid Outside Linebackers.

You can see that Mack and Miller are the two highest paid OLBs in football, with Kerrigan ranking 7th, earning $7.5m per year less than Von Miller. Kerrigan earns less than half of what Khalil Mack earns.

Based on the contract numbers, it seems reasonable to conclude that Mack and Miller are clearly among the elite players at the position right now. Kerrigan, who was drafted the same year as Miller, is paid more like a second-tier player.

Is there a good reason for that when it comes to production? In other words, if we compare historical production for the three players, what will it show?

College production

Let’s start by comparing a few simple indicators of production from their NCAA days:

It’s clear that Mack had the most success in the Tackles for Loss category, but had the lowest production of the three when it came to sacks. Kerrigan and Miller were very comparable with respect to sack production, while Miller was the least productive in TFL and forced fumbles. Taken as a whole, this chart gives the impression of three players who might have different strengths, but who were all well-rounded, high-perfrormance collegiate athletes.

Combine results

The combine makes it possible to compare players from different schools, conferences and years with a standard set of measurements. While the chart below is not an exhaustive listing of all combine measurements and results, it certainly hits the headline drills.

Aside from the bench press, where Kerrigan put up an impressive 31 reps, the Purdue Boilermaker measured a bit less athletic than the other two, while Von Miller seems to have the best measurables in general.

NFL games & snaps

The chart below shows the number of games, starts and snaps for each player in his respective NFL career.

Because Miller & Kerrigan have played for 7 season while Mack has played for just 4, I have included per-game averages on the second line for each player to allow an apples-to-apples comparison.

I see immediately that Kerrigan has played 8 more games than Miller has, despite entering the league at the same time. The other trend seems to be that Khalil Mack is used as a pass rusher 2 to 3 snaps per game more often than the other two, and drops into coverage less often.

Overall, though, all three players are averaging right around 60 snaps per game, with a similar breakup between run defense, pass rushing and dropping into coverage.

NFL production - tackles

Khalil Mack has been the most effective tackler of the three, judging by these raw numbers.

NFL production - other stats

Looking at these numbers, I get the feeling that Miller is the most talented pass rusher of the three, though Kerrigan may hold a slight advantage as a coverage linebacker.

The bottom line

When we look at the college production, combine results, games & snaps played, and production in the three facets of the game (run defense, pass rush, coverage), it seems to me that Ryan Kerrigan compares very favorably to the acknowledged top two players in the game in terms of career production.

Kerrigan doesn’t have the name recognition of Von Miller or Khalil Mack, but he’s got the college pedigree, the draft pedigree, seven healthy seasons, and elite production numbers that argue that he deserves to be mentioned in the same conversation with the league’s best.

Redskin fans have always known that Kerrigan was something special, but many may not have realized just how special he has been.


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By the time he retires, will Khalil Mack be deserving of a gold jacket and a bust in the Hall of Fame?

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Which of these Redskins was/is the greatest of the group?

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  • 8%
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    John Riggins
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    Sean Taylor
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