Washington Redskins: Tracking Ryan Kerrigan’s path to the Hall of Fame

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 28: Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Redskins reacts after sacking Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 28, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 28: Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Redskins reacts after sacking Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 28, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has had a fantastic career. What else does he need to do to find himself in the Hall of Fame?

For some reason, Washington Redskins pass-rusher Ryan Kerrigan has always been overlooked and under-appreciated in his career. Maybe it’s his quiet demeanor in the national media. He seems like a fun guy and solid leader, but you won’t see him in many national ad campaigns or making the news for anything crazy. It could also be the simple fact that he’s on the Redskins. They haven’t exactly been elite in the 2000s, so some might not pay attention to their players as much.

Of course, it could be his draft class as well. Looking back, the 2011 NFL Draft was absolutely stacked with star power. Cam Newton was the first overall pick, and the first round alone featured a ridiculous amount of fantastic players.

Before the Redskins took Kerrigan at No. 16, a lot of future stars were taken. After Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson rounded out the top five. Julio Jones was taken with the sixth pick and Tyron Smith was No. 9. Then there was J.J. Watt at No. 11, with Nick Fairley at No. 13. Finally, Robert Quinn went with the 14th pick and Mike Pouncey at the 15th were the last two selections before the Redskins were on the clock.

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Technically, Washington had the 10th overall pick, but traded back with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who took Blaine Gabbert in that spot (a rare miss in this first round).

Whatever the reason truly is, the fact of the matter is Kerrigan tends not to get the recognition he deserves. Currently, the Purdue product has 84.5 sacks in his career. That puts him just 6.5 away from Dexter Manley for the Washington Redskins franchise record. It also puts him three away from entering the top 50 in NFL history.

That may not seem like much, but Kerrigan’s only 30 years old. Not only that, but he’s been more consistently dominant in recent years as compared to his first few seasons. There’s every reason to believe he could at least flirt with entering the top 20 before the end of his career. For reference, Simeon Rice is currently in 20th place with 122 sacks, meaning Kerrigan’s just 37.5 sacks away from tying him.

While that may seem like a lot, that shouldn’t take too long for the Redskins star. His worst sack total came in his rookie season with 7.5. He followed that up with two straight 8.5-sack campaigns, then jumped to a career-best 13.5. After that, he posted 9.5 sacks in 2015. Kerrigan has posted double-digit sacks in each of the three seasons since then, coming in with 11 in 2016, and 13 each in 2017 and 2018.

On top of all that, he’s got 25 forced fumbles in his career. That already puts him in 37th place on the all-time list. This is another list he could climb fast in, as the leader is Robert Mathis with 54.

To be fair, forced fumbles aren’t a stat that have been tracked for all that long. However, it’s still an impressive feat and one that exemplifies Kerrigan’s greatness. The linebacker averages just over three forced fumbles a season. Therefore, if he keeps up that pace he could be in the top 10 in less that five years.

Fun fact, he also has three career interceptions. All three have gone for touchdowns.

In keeping with his character, Kerrigan is underrated when it comes to his run defense as well.  This makes him a player that the Redskins don’t need to take off the field for certain sets – meaning he’ll get plenty of playing time in the future. Of course, that’s never been a problem before as he’s never missed a game.

So what exactly does Ryan Kerrigan need to do to get into the Hall of Fame one day? Continue to stay healthy. As long as he can do that, he’ll produce. In eight seasons, he’s recorded 84.5 sacks and 25 forced fumbles. That means he’s averaging over 10.5 sacks per season.

If he can keep with his averages, Kerrigan will be in the top 10 in NFL history in forced fumbles within the next five years. Meanwhile, he’ll be in the top 20 in NFL history in career sacks in less than four seasons. He’d reach the top 10 (137.5 by Richard Dent and John Randle) in just over five seasons.

It’s hard to imagine someone in the top 10 in forced fumbles and somewhere near the top 10 in sacks not finding his way to Canton.

He’s only gotten better in recent years too, producing more than his career-average in sacks in each of the last three years (and four of the last five). So while that 137.5 sacks may seem far away (53 sacks), it’s not out of reach for Kerrigan. Yes, players tend to decline at some point in their careers and it’s unfair to act like Kerrigan won’t. However, as shown by players like DeMarcus Ware, Jason Taylor, Michael Strahan, Julius Peppers and Bruce Smith, you can still be an extremely effective pass rusher at an older age.

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There’s plenty of reason to believe Kerrigan could still be putting up decent numbers in seven or eight years.

Ryan Kerrigan is the superstar no one talks about. Fans of other teams rarely mention him, and some fans of the Washington Redskins don’t appreciate him enough. By the end of his career though, he’ll be closer to the top of a lot of all-time lists than you’d probably imagine. If Kerrigan wants to make it into the Hall of Fame, all he has to do is keep playing.