Inside The Birds: Kerrigan Role “Bigger Than I Thought”
The Eagles surprised some this week, signing veteran pass rusher and former nemesis Ryan Kerrigan to a 1-year deal.
Kerrigan’s talent is undeniable; he exited Washington as the franchise’s all-time sack leader. But why would the Eagles, in the midst of a rebuild, sign a 32-year old edge rusher to compete for snaps with Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett?
Turns out, there’s a good reason.
In the latest Inside The Birds, Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher dished intel on the expected role for Kerrigan along with discussing changes in the offseason program, the additions of Le’Raven Clark and Josiah Scott, and movement in the scouting department.
Adam Caplan: “Why wouldn’t Ryan Kerrigan wait or not sign with another team? Here’s why. His role is gonna be pretty solid. It’s going to be a bit bigger than I thought. As soon as I saw the Eagles were gonna sign him I thought, ‘Well, why would they want him as a fourth end?’ A-ha. He’s not going to be. He’ll play it when they need him to, but here’s something I didn’t know … he played well over 50 percent of his snaps in his career as a standup outside linebacker.
“He’s been playing linebacker on and off since 2012. They saw him with the ability to stand up. I heard he’s going to play a lot of linebacker. They’re not asking Ryan Kerrigan to cover very much, that’s not what they’re asking him to do. Think of it this way, if you’re Ryan Kerrigan, are you really going to sign as a fourth D-end? Those guys play 10-12 snaps per game. He’s obviously going to play standup outside linebacker and we’ll see how much they play him at D-end. By the end of the season I would expect well over 50 percent at linebacker.”
Geoff Mosher: “What it would do is enable them to get Kerrigan on the field even with two other pass rushers, two other D-ends. Whatever combination you want to put in, it does allow them to get Kerrigan on the field. If you look at Anthony Barr, he plays a similar role in the Vikings’ defense. The Eagles like to get as many pass rushers on the field [as possible]. If you can get him on one side of the line and have a protection slide that way, it opens up a 1-on-1 for either Fletcher Cox or Brandon Graham to be able to beat it.”
Mosher: “One-year deal and man, this team makes no bones about the fact that it is always going to look to upgrade and address the offensive line. I mean, they do in the draft, in free agency, undrafted free agents, and La’Raven being the next one. Now this one’s interesting, right, because he can play tackle. He’s coming off an Achilles tear, so you have to wonder first and foremost when he’ll be ready to play.”
Caplan: “As I understand it, the thought process is if he’s ready to roll he could be their swing tackle, that’s their thinking. That means backup right tackle, backup left tackle, and potentially guard, because he’s played some. Now, here’s the thing on this guy: he’s not built like a guard, he’s built like a tackle, he’s super long, his arms are just under 37 inches, your ideal left tackle is 34, 34.5. If you can have that you’re loving it. Former third-round pick of the Colts. Now he’s generally been a backup because he does not play to his length, as explained to me by a scouting source, he doesn’t play to his measurables. And that’s why he’s not been able to be a long term starter.”
Caplan: “I’ve said this before and I really want to make this clear, because this is what teams do now, this is a really smart move. So, what you do is when you know the kind of player that you want, you haven’t signed yet, like Steven Nelson, someone like that. What you do is, and this is the way it was explained to me, as you start looking at every NFL roster of guys you had third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-round grades on and these guys are buried on depth charts. Well, Josiah Scott had some issues, he’s smaller. Trent Baalke, the general manager of the Jaguars, I know he doesn’t have personnel control but Urban Meyer leans heavily on him. Baalke likes long corners. Well, Scott does not fit that profile, he’s not does not fit that size profile. He’s 5-foot-9 and a quarter. He’s got less than 30-inch arms, which is very small. He’s got an average build – he’s not thin, but he’s just got an average build. Now, what we’re told is they’re going to start him out at outside corner, not inside corner. He’s played both, he played both at Michigan State, he’s a high-character, high-IQ, competitive kid, 4.42 40, which is fine for a corner, but he’s smaller, which is why he was not a pick in the first three rounds. They worked out on Monday, pretty much had it done, finalized it on Tuesday.”
Caplan: “Yeah so they moved Matt Holland, who was their senior pro scout, to the Northeast college scouting position and Jeff Scott, who was Washington’s assistant director of pro scouting/advanced coordinator helping pro scouting, he’s taking over Matt Holland’s role, and then there’s Phil Bhaya who was the Northeast scout.”
Mosher: “It’s my understanding [Bhaya] is gonna go down to the southeast. Hey listen, let’s be real, when you’re scouting Northeast college football, it’s not always great. But now to be able to go to the southeast, that’s prime-time territory right there.”
– Justin Morganstein (@jmotweets_) is a staff contributor to InsideTheBirds.com.
Listen to the latest “Inside The Birds” podcast from Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan here: