Bucky Brooks on Orakpo
No. 13. Though he was projected by many as a hybrid rusher, Orakpo will play as a conventional edge rusher alongside Pro Bowler Albert Haynesworth. With the big man occupying double teams inside, Orakpo has an opportunity to record double-digit sacks in his first season due to a high number of man-on-man blocks off the edge.
"Sometimes you've got to be lucky in the draft that the guy that you really covet falls to you," said Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' executive vice president of football operations. "You know, I tried for an hour to move up to get the guy. Nobody would do it, and he fell to us."
"I was shocked that he fell," Cerrato said.
Orakpo, who had 11.5 sacks last year for Texas, joins a Washington defensive line that had no player with more than four sacks in last year's 8-8 season. The Redskins had just 24 total sacks, even though the defense ranked No. 4 overall in the NFL, and a vacancy at left defensive end was created when veteran Jason Taylor was cut last month.
The Redskins first addressed the line by signing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a seven-year, $100 million contract during free agency. Now they've added Orakpo.
"I'm ecstatic," said Orakpo, the son of Nigerian immigrants. "Having one of the best defensive tackles in the league, in the game right now, will make my job a lot easier, I'll tell you that much. Because that's what you need -- that force and that beast up the middle."
Orakpo wouldn't have been the choice, however, had the Redskins found the right price for Sanchez. The USC quarterback essentially was auctioned off to the New York Jets, who sent their selections in the first and second rounds, along with three players, to the Cleveland Browns to move up to the No. 5 overall pick.
Asked if the Redskins tried to trade up for Sanchez, Cerrato said: "We made a couple of calls, but it was too expensive."
The Redskins have spent a significant chunk of the offseason looking for an upgrade to Jason Campbell, who threw for 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions last season in his first full season as the starting quarterback. Redskins owner Dan Snyder failed to acquire Jay Cutler from the Broncos earlier this offseason, then welcomed Sanchez for a two-day visit in the build-up to the draft.
The swirling quarterback scenarios have rattled Campbell, leaving him to wonder about his future with the team, but he has apparently survived the offseason and now can be assured once and for all by Zorn that he will enter the final year of his contract as the starter.
"Things were a little bit of a roller-coaster with the whole situation, through the media, through real or unreal situations with Cutler and the stuff about Mark Sanchez as well," Zorn said. "I just feel like we stayed true to what we were planning and didn't try to ride it with everybody else."
Ironically, it was the selection of Sanchez at No. 5 that helped Orakpo fall to No. 13. With the Browns out of the top 10, that left one fewer team targeting defense ahead of the Redskins. Washington entered the draft looking at a possible rotation of 36-year-old Phillip Daniels and 34-year-old Renaldo Wynn at left defensive end.
Orakpo's top liability is run defense, with Zorn admitting that "there's going to be a learning curve there."
"Everybody's not perfect," Orakpo said. "One thing I know is 'Don't think pass too much.' I have to be able to stop the run, obviously, with the division we're in, so that's something I know I have to work on."
Orakpo's first wide-eyed, "what did he say?" NFL moment came when he was asked what he plans to do with his first NFL paycheck.
"I'm going to buy me a huge bed," he said. "I need a big old comfortable bed so I can relax and witness all of it."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press