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Ryan Kerrigan Revisits Draft Day 2011

Posted Apr 26, 2013

It was nearly two years ago to the day since Purdue linebacker Ryan Kerrigan became the Redskins’ top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. A look back at his experience.

It was nearly two years ago to the day since Purdue linebacker Ryan Kerrigan became the Redskins’ top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Kerrigan, a 4-3 defensive end at Purdue, was brought in to complement 3-4 outside linebacker Brian Orakpo in the pass rush.

After his pre-draft visit to Redskins Park, he remembers leaving with a feeling he might return to Washington.

“When I visited the Redskins, I got a really good vibe from them,” he told me yesterday after offseason workouts. “I knew they were looking for someone opposite of Brian Orakpo and someone who was predominantly left side, and that was the side that I preferred playing in college.

“I had an inclination and that was one place that I actually went and told my parents, ‘I could see myself playing there.’ It’s funny how things work out.”

Kerrigan was one of the then-record 25 prospects invited to attend the draft and sit in the green room at Radio City Music Hall.

This was Kerrigan’s first trip to New York City, and the weeklong experience was incredible for the young man from Muncie, Ind.

“You know, the whole thing is just an awesome experience that’s really hard to describe,” he said. “Throughout the whole draft process you’re kind of stressed out, you’re kind of wondering what do these teams think of you, what can you do to help yourself out, what can you do make sure you don’t screw anything up.”

As the clock ticked down to prime time, Kerrigan said he finally felt at peace with the process, recognizing that his months-long job interview was now over.

“Once the actually day came I was pretty relaxed,” he said in retrospect. “I was just like, ‘You know, I’ve done all they could to get to this point and wherever I go is where I go and I’m going to be happy with that.’

“I think going in with that kind of approach was nice for me. My family I’m sure wasn’t the same; they were a little more nervous than I was.”

Although the green room may feel like a tomb for prospects that slide down draft boards and out of the first round, Ryan Kerrigan said he had a great time taking in the experience.

“It was cool. You see guys getting picked that you played with and against in college and train with for the Combine,” he said. “It was pretty cool to see Von Miller go so high after I trained with him throughout the Combine, just the emotion on his face was pretty neat.

“It was definitely a little tense at times just because you really had no idea where I was going to go, but for the most part I was pretty relaxed.”

The Redskins were originally slated for the No. 10 overall pick, and Kerrigan knew he was unlikely to fall past the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 16.

When the two teams exchanged picks and the Jaguars selected quarterback Blaine Gabbert at No. 10, Kerrigan knew anything was possible for his final destination.

“I didn’t know, honestly. When the Redskins came on the clock I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “You try not to pay too much attention to mock drafts and all that, but you can’t help it at times.

“The trade with Jacksonville kind of threw a little loop in it for me because I didn’t know what to expect. Sure enough, I still got taken at No. 16, just by a different team than I thought and people had originally predicted.”

After the pick was announced, the hat and handshakes were given and the pictures were taken, Kerrigan was whisked away to Washington in a blur of excitement.

At the time of his selection, the NFL and the players association were in the middle of a prolonged labor dispute and players were locked out of team facilities.

Both sides granted an exemption for the day following the first round, and Kerrigan was permitted to meet with the coaches and media at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va.

Looking back on the experience now, Kerrigan said he appreciates the process and knows that he ended up in the perfect environment to start his NFL career.

“Just the whole week in New York City was pretty sweet,” he said with the smile. “It was a good experience. My favorite part was the whole thing.”

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