Where will Ryan Kerrigan play for the Philadelphia Eagles?
The Philadelphia Eagles surprised everyone yesterday morning by signing former Washington Football Team defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan, an Eagles killer, has been notoriously hated by Eagles fans for having Larry Fitzgerald level games against Philly throughout his career. Kerrigan’s signing now raises the question of where will he be placed in the Eagles depth chart.
For most of his career, Ryan has played as a hybrid outside linebacker, both on the line of scrimmage and off the ball in Washington’s 3-4 defense. Where Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon lines up Kerrigan heavily depends on what defensive scheme they are running. It has been speculated the Eagles could switch from their current 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense this season.
If the Eagles remain in their current 4-3 defense, it seems likely that Kerrigan will be a pure defensive end. Despite that, there is the chance he could be that Sam/Will linebacker for the Eagles based on their current depth along the defensive line. Earlier this offseason, the Eagles signed linebacker Eric Wilson who plays all three linebacker positions but is most notable for his play over the middle. Alex Singleton is shaping up to be one of the Eagles’ outside linebackers after playing significant time in that position last season. The Eagles are essentially solidified in their strong side and middle linebackers. The last and only open linebacker position would be the weak side.
The remaining choices include Shaun Bradley, T.J. Edwards, Genard Avery, and Davion Taylor. Both Taylor and Bradley still need a lot of time to develop. Avery hasn’t played at LB since college, and Edwards isn’t a player that the Eagles should rely on to be a starter on defense. This question mark is where Kerrigan comes into the equation. The ability to play on the outside is still there but fading away as he continues to get older.
At 32 years old, Kerrigan is not the same player he was early in his career. Kerrigan’s talent at this point in his career wouldn’t be used best at Sam/Will, but if the Eagles want a well-rounded defense, he might be their best bet. Even if that’s the case, it would make more sense for the Eagles to develop one of their younger players in the weak side linebacker position and give Bradley, Taylor, or Avery a shot and keep Kerrigan on the defensive line.
The Ideal Position for Ryan Kerrigan
Letting the young guys get snaps and play Kerrigan off the edge is the most ideal situation for the Eagles. Playing up-front allows Kerrigan to use his talents to the fullest with where he is in his career while providing defensive line depth. Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham are the clear-cut starters at defensive end, with Josh Sweat making a also expected to get significant time. Although the starters are locked up, the other backup edge spot is wide open. Playing in short-bursts is the perfect situation to thrive for the veteran and help the Eagles defense provide pressure during the passing scenarios.
If the Eagles move to a 3-4 hybrid, playing Kerrigan in that two-way role is the most suitable position and allows him to play where he has been for several years. It also allows the Eagles to get the best of both worlds from him in both pass coverage and blitz schemes.
Mandatory Credit: Daniel Kucin Jr. Associated Press