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Prospect Q&A: Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan

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By Kevin Fishbain

Defensive end is a loaded position in the upcoming NFL draft, with a slew of young pass rushers predicted to go in the first round. PFW talked to Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, who could be an end or an outside linebacker in the NFL.

Kerrigan has impressed teams since the NFL Combine with his ability to get after the quarterback and is expected to go in the first round. Among other things, he talked with PFW about which position he sees himself playing in the pros and how his family helped introduce him to football.

PFW draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki ranked Kerrigan as the seventh-best DE in the draft.

PFW: When did you first get into football?
Kerrigan: When I was a little kid, my brother and I signed up for a flag football league in first or second grade. That was it for me. I knew I loved playing football and I wanted to keep doing it. Once we got into the contact leagues, that's where my love for football really grew.

PFW: How did your parents, including your dad, who played at Ball State, factor in your football upbringing?
Kerrigan: Both my parents were really big in my sporting life. My mom was a really good athlete in high school, as well. They both were always there for me for support and for advice on how to get better. It was good having them as my parents because they got me into sports and it's always fun to sit down and watch the games with them. They're as big of sports fans as I am.

PFW: What was your experience like playing at Purdue and in the Big Ten?
Kerrigan: I am very fortunate and blessed to be able to play at Purdue. I was surrounded by great people and my teammates were some of the best friends I'll ever have. I was very fortunate to have them, as well as all the coaches I've had and the support system we had at Purdue. It was so close to home, so my parents could always come to games. It was a truly great experience. Playing in the Big Ten really helped me develop not only as a football player but a person. It taught me perseverance — the rigors of a Big Ten schedule are quite demanding.

PFW: Does one game or play stick out to you from your memories at Purdue?
Kerrigan: My favorite memory would be when we upset OSU my junior year. They were (ranked) No. 7 and we were 1-5, had lost five straight and were really down in the dumps. We came out that day and played some of the best football I've ever seen us play at Purdue. We won, and the students rushed the field. It was one of the greatest experiences I'll ever have in my life and I really cherished it.

PFW: How have you been prepared, physically and mentally, for the Combine and meeting with pro teams leading up to the draft?
Kerrigan: They're preparing us in every way, mainly physically because they are seeing you as a football player, but also mentally on how to conduct myself at the interviews and the right things to say. Getting on the drawing board and being able to diagnose plays and play different defenses will also be an important factor.

PFW: Some scouts have pegged you as a 3-4 OLB in the pros, but you played a 4-3 DE during college. Where do you see yourself playing in the NFL?
Kerrigan: I've played in a 4-3 defense my whole life with my hand in the ground; that's my initial guess. I'd be willing to play wherever a team wants me to play. I've stood up some in my college and high school career from the defensive end position and I'd be willing to do that and put everything I had into it.

PFW: Which player do you model your play after?
Kerrigan: I really like the way Michael Strahan played — he was a physical rusher. He was the type of guy that was really good against the run and pass. I've tried to model my game after his in a lot of ways.

PFW: You tied the all-time FBS record with 14 forced fumbles. How do you have so much success stripping the offense?
Kerrigan: Transfer of training — we practiced that every day. When you get to the quarterback or ballcarrier, it's not only 'make the tackle' but to try and force the fumble and get the ball back for our offense.

PFW: What is something you want the scouts to see you can do that separates you from the other defensive ends in this class?
Kerrigan: I think I play hard every play. That's one of the big things that I really try to showcase to everybody. Playing hard every play cannot be explained enough. Giving it your all — that's what helps the defense become great, have the swarming mentality to get to the football. I tried to do my part every single play to sprint my hardest and work my hardest to get to the football every snap.

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