Our man Matt Williamson does a "Rookie Watch" every week -- a top 10 list of the league's best rookies and how they're performing at the season goes along. This week's list includes just one NFC East player -- Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who comes in sixth overall and second (behind Denver's Von Miller) among defensive players.
KerriganKerrigan opened everyone's eyes, of course, with the brilliant second-half play on which he tipped an Eli Manning pass into the air, caught it and rumbled back into the end zone for a touchdown. Matt writes here, "There are many big plays in his future."
In our preseason picks, Kerrigan was my selection to win the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. The reason I picked him is because he's playing on a team and in a system that will put him in a position to make the kinds of memorable plays he made Sunday, and to rack up big sack totals. When it comes time to vote on these awards, the guys with the big numbers, the headlines and the memorable moments tend to have an advantage over the others. And Kerrigan, having been drafted to play outside linebacker opposite Brian Orakpo in a scheme designed to clear room up front for the linebackers to get after quarterbacks, is in exactly the right spot from which to rack up all kinds of numbers, headlines and memorable moments.
I also happen to think the kid is smart, talented and athletic enough to take advantage of his opportunity, which is critical, of course. But the main point here is that Kerrigan finds himself in a position to succeed right away in the NFL, based on what his skills are and the way they fit the defense into which he was drafted.