Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Just How Good is Brian Orakpo?

I am willing to admit it right here and now: I officially have a man-crush on Brian Orakpo.

The rookie defensive end the Redskins selected 13th overall in this past April's draft seems like exactly the type of player we need at the moment. He reminds me of the type of impact player on defense that LaVar Arrington was before his dip in form, then his ultimate decline. The Redskins plan to use Orakpo as a linebacker/d-end hybrid, dropping him back on most first and second downs and rushing him at the QB on third down. With early reports of him routinely beating experienced veteran and near-perennial Pro Bowler Chris Samuels on drills early during training camp, one has to wonder if he is already that good or if we're reading into things too early to know for sure.

The concern here is this: what if Samuels is just that bad? I've thought for a while now that he was named to his last couple of Pro Bowls on reputation alone and that he really hasn't played to the level he once did for a few seasons. Of course, he's battled multiple injuries and played through them, which I'm sure has affected his abilities, but the simple truth is that he isn't getting any younger and that's what generally happens to old aging football players. At some point, they start sucking.

Ultimately, I feel that the answer lies somewhere in between. Orakpo may be very good and this may not be a total indictment on Samuels, either (ooh, maybe indictment isn't the right word. Sorry, Plaxico). It's just very hard not to get excited for the defense this season after hearing so many positive reports, having him healthy, signed and participating almost from the get-go, and especially after seeing videos like this. Upon seeing it, my roommates bought chains, a tire and a sledgehammer, and I'm not joking.

I admit that the roster is still full of holes and that the 2009 Redskins may be undone in the end by a crappy offensive line. But it's possible that Orakpo could turn out to be one of those X-factor performers that help get the Redskins over the 8-8 hump. I'm very encouraged by what I'm hearing about him, as well as Chris Horton, Albert Haynesworth, and even... (*gulp*) Devin Thomas. I said before that it's going to take people from within the organization stepping up in order for us improve at all. That includes, but is not limited to Jason Campbell. While there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not that will actually happen, adding smart, likable guys like Orakpo makes me feel better about our situation.

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, I think I've had a man crush on Brian Orakpo ever since the Texas/OU game last year.

    When I read that article I actually had the same thoughts about Samuels. Though banged up, he didn't look great last year, and he isn't exactly getting younger.

    Regardless of how shaky our O-line looks now (and shaky is being generous), our D this year should be really fun to watch, and potentially top 5 good.