Did the Redskins Make the Right Decision on Kerrigan vs. J.J. Watt?

Bryan Manning

Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan could miss the first game of his NFL career this weekend due to a concussion sustained in the win over Detroit. 

Kerrigan did not practice Wednesday or Thursday for the Redskins. The sturdy Kerrigan has never missed a start in his nine-year NFL career. Drafted 16th overall in 2011, Kerrigan has started 139 consecutive games for Washington’s defense.

It's good to remind you that the Redskins had the 10th overall pick in that draft. However, Washington wisely traded out of the spot and moved back six spots, where it selected Kerrigan and picked up an additional second-rounder that season. That pick ended up being defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins at No. 41 overall.

The 10th pick that season? Blaine Gabbert. YIKES! 

With the benefit of hindsight, can we say Kerrigan was the right pick in that draft?

The Houston Texans picked No. 11 overall that season and the man they ended up taking turned out pretty darn good, too. J.J. Watt, future Hall-of-Famer.

It would be easy for Washington fans to say the team should’ve stayed at No. 10 and selected Watt. But, 10 other teams passed on Watt as well. The 2011 NFL Draft  was loaded defensive talent like Von Miller, Patrick Peterson, Watt, Kerrigan and Cameron Jordan who  were all first-round picks that year.

In nine seasons, Kerrigan has 89 sacks, just two away from the franchise record held by Dexter Manley.  He's  forced 26 fumbles, picked off three passes and scored three touchdowns. Kerrigan has been named to the Pro Bowl four times. The former Purdue standout also has 435 career tackles, including 113 for loss and 140 quarterback hits.

Meanwhile, Watt during the same time frame, has played in 112 games. He has 96 sacks, 23 forced fumbles, one interception and scored two touchdowns. He also has 479 career tackles and a whopping 264 quarterback hits. Watt has twice led the NFL in sacks, been named to the Pro Bowl five times, been first-team All-Pro five times and defensive player of the year on three different occasions.

That is an amazing career and puts Watt on track to be one of the best defensive players in the history of the NFL.

With Watt, the only question about him is health. He had his season cut short three different times due to injury, including this season. When he plays, he is still a dominant force.

Kerrigan's  durability and consistency is unquestioned. Earlier in his career, Kerrigan would also make plays in the passing game, most notably his interception of Eli Manning and return for a touchdown in his NFL debut.

So, did the Redskins make the right call?


There were no guarantees with Watt or Kerrigan. Washington, for once, made the correct decision on draft day, moving back and acquiring another high pick. While Jenkins didn’t pan out, it was a smart move and Kerrigan has proven to be Washington’s top defender this decade. At some point, and soon, Kerrigan will be Washington’s all-time leader in sacks.

As for Watt, there is no debating he is the superior player. Passing over Watt wasn’t an egregious error, like so many other moves made in the Bruce Allen era.

Let’s be honest, as great a player as Watt is, how many deep playoff runs has Houston been on this decade? A lack of playoff success is something the Redskins know all too well. 

Bryan Manning has covered the NFL, MLB, NBA, college football and college basketball for almost 10 years for various outlets such as Bleacher Report, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today SMG, and others. Bryan has covered the Washington Redskins for different outlets and currently co-hosts a podcast on the Virginia Tech Hokies for SB Nation. For his day job, Bryan works in engineering for a major communications company. 

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