Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan told NFL Sirius Radio on Monday that he will attend the NFL draft at New York's Radio City Music Hall later this month.
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks predicts in his latest mock draft that Kerrigan will go to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 16. NFL.com senior writer Steve Wyche agrees the Jags are the team, saying the pass rusher will be a good complement to Aaron Kampman. Pat Kirwan believes Kerrigan will go off the boards sooner, predicting the Houston Texanswill scoop him up with the No. 11 pick.
Kerrigan joins eight other prospects who have publicly confirmed their intention to attend the draft, which is scheduled for April 28-30.
Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers, USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith, Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget, and Baylor offensive tackle Danny Watkins also plan to be there.
Watkins is one of the more intriguing stories in the draft, growing up in British Columbia, Canada, and not playing football until 2007. He previously worked as a firefighter and moved from junior college to Baylor.
The guard has been advised that he isn't a sure-fire first-round pick, though he is drawing strong reviews from many teams. He is older than most draft prospects with just four years of football experience but is seen as one of the top interior linemen in this draft.
Watkins intends to formally accept the invitation from the league this week, a league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora, and the 26-year-old confirmed to NFL.com on Monday that he will be in attendance.
"I'm excited to get there," Watkins said. "It's an honor and a privilege to get an invite to the draft. I was shooting for the second round. That's what I'm shooting for, so if I get an opportunity to go in the first, I'll be ecstatic. But if I were to go in the top few picks in the second (round), I'd be more than ecstatic."
Anthony Castonzo and Mark Herzlich of Boston College also have been invited to attend the draft, league sources told La Canfora on Tuesday. Both players still are considering the invite and haven't finalized their plans, though Castonzo, one of the top offensive line prospects, is leaning toward not attending.
Herzlich has one of the most impactful stories in the draft, having battled cancer to resume his college career. The linebacker missed all of the 2009 season after having an outstanding 2008 season, when he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
At one point, Herzlich was told he would never run again, much less play football. He is still working his way back from the ordeal, and while he once was seen as a top-10 pick, his draft status is now more in question, with many projecting him to go somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft.
However, Herzlich's character, courage and will are unimpeachable, and draft day will be a profound experience for him just for having reached this point.