Former Texas DE Brain Orakpo is the First Round Draft pick of the Washington Redskins, and the No. 13 pick overall, at the 74th annual NFL Draft Saturday in New York City.
Most projected Orakpo as a Top 10 pick, if not the No. 5 selection. Instead, Orakpo was the third DE chosen in a Draft that is loaded at that position.
LSU DE Tyson Jackson, the No. 3 pick overall (courtesy of Kansas City), stole some of Orakpo's thunder. The Chiefs desperately needed to upgrade their pass rush after notching just 10 sacks last season. (Jackson is considered a relentless, passionate pursuer and is versatile enough to play at DE or DT.) Penn State DE Aaron Maybin was the Draft's 11th pick, belonging to Buffalo. Both players possess the type of explosiveness off the ball that several scouts have said is missing in Orakpo's game.
Still, Orakpo is the first Longhorn DE taken in the First Round since New England made DE/DT Kenneth Sims its top pick in 1982. The 2008 Lombardi Award (top lineman) and Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player) winner was one of just nine players invited to attend the 74th NFL Draft.at Radio City Music Hall. Orakpo becomes the 14th Longhorn to go in the First Round since head coach Mack Brown arrived in Austin.
Orakpo's size (nearly 6-4, 256) and strength is considered protypical for NFL DEs. He could also play OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Scouts consistently give him high marks for tackling technique and aggressive closing speed. They like his ability to gain leverage on pass-blockers. Scouts have said Orakpo relies more on size and strength than natural quicks. There is some minor concern about durability after Orakpo missed time his junior and senior seasons with knee injury. Otherwise, Orakpo just needs to fine-tune aspects of his game, particularly in developing pass-rush moves.
The Redskins desperately needed help at the edge. Starting RDE Andre Carter led the team with all of four sacks in 2008. Washington also lacks a sold run-stopper at LE. Washington was also looking for a sudden-impact player after just one of 10 Draftees last season cracked the starting lineup.
Orakpo finished his Texas tenure as one of the top DEs in school history. Arguably the finest DE of the Mack Brown era, Orakpo notched 11.5 sacks as senior on a defense that led the nation in sacks. He added 19 tackles for loss, 30 QB pressures and four forced fumbles to his resume in 2008.
It is projected that no other Longhorn will be selected until the Third Round. It is generally expected that NT Roy Miller will be the next Texas player taken in the 2009 Draft.
Rounds Three through Five are slated to begin at 9 a.m. Central, Sunday.