Redskins fill need with Texas DE Orakpo at No. 13; Sanchez was no-go

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Mark Sanchez sweepstakes was won by someone else, leaving the Washington Redskins to take the conventional approach -- filling one of their most pressing needs with their first pick in the NFL draft.

Bucky Brooks on Orakpo

Brian Orakpo unexpectedly falls to the Redskins at

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.

Surprised to find him still available, the Redskins chose Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo with the No. 13 overall selection Saturday, bolstering a pass rush that had the fewest sacks in the NFC in 2008.

"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."

Cerrato said he called "about five teams" in an attempt to trade up for the chance to choose the 6-foot-3, 263-pound speed rusher. When the Denver Broncos -- selecting at No. 12 -- didn't take Orakpo, there was fist-pounding excitement in the war room, according to Redskins coach Jim Zorn.

The Redskins used just 2½ minutes of their 10-minute time allotment to make the selection.

"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."

The Redskins also have needs at linebacker and tackle, which they will look to address on the second day of the draft. Washington didn't have a second-round pick, having traded it last year to acquire Taylor from the Miami Dolphins.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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