Path to the Pros: Ryan Kerrigan

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High motor, strong character, productive: that's the quick profile of  defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. Such intangibles characterize the prototypical NFL prospect, and Kerrigan is certainly a player any of the league's 32 teams would be thrilled to add to their defense.

NFL scouts aren't the only ones raving about the former Purdue DE. "He's a beast," proclaims Von Miller, one of Kerrigan's training partners at Velocity Sports Performance in Irvine, Calif. A premier player in this year's Draft, Miller credits Kerrigan as the workhorse who kept him hungry and motivated throughout the weeks of prepping for the Combine.

"A humbling experience" is how offensive lineman Nate Solder described training alongside Kerrigan. "He's like 250 [pounds] and he's Benching more than me and Squatting more than me," Solder says.

Kerrigan was 255 pounds at the Senior Bowl official weigh-ins. Less than two months later, he checked in at 267 pounds for the NFL Combine. He posted 31 reps on the 225-Bench Test, seventh among all Combine participants. He also destroyed the jumping events with a 10'2" Broad Jump—second among d-linemen—and an impressive 33½-inch Vertical Jump.

Kerrigan's bio speaks volumes about his work ethic and unrelenting style of play. He became the Big Ten's all-time leader in forced fumbles [14], which also tied the all-time Football Bowl Subdivision mark. In 2010, he collected both Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year honors.

"I've been preparing for it all," says Kerrigan. "My [position] coach, Dan Brandenburg, and I have been working on a number of different things, from linebacker drills to defensive line drills. I want to be ready for any obstacle thrown at me."

He's not the flashiest defensive player on the board, but he's projected as a  mid-first round pick. There may be no safer bet for teams selecting outside the top 10.

Tune in to ESPN for Round One of the NFL Draft on Thursday, April 28. And don't miss part four of STACK's Path to the Pros series [see video at top], highlighting Kerrigan's NFL Combine prep at Velocity. You can also check out his Velocity training partners, Von Miller and Nate Solder, as they prepare to make their mark at the Combine.

Photo:  Jon Speyers

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock