Orakpo selected 13th overall by Washington Redskins in 2009 NFL Draft
April 25, 2009
"I can't put it into words how I feel right now," Orakpo said. "Being a first-round draft pick is a dream come true. It really shows how hard work pays off and is a tribute to my family, coaches, teammates - everyone that helped me get here. It was tough to wait a little longer than I expected, but when it came down to the Washington Redskins, I was really excited. I had a great visit their with Mr. Snyder, Vinny Cerrato and Coach Zorn. It just felt like the perfect fit. It's a lot like Texas, a great organization with a proud history, a winning tradition, great fans. I can't wait to get to work and do my best to help the Redskins. I told them when we had dinner on my visit there that I guaranteed them I would work as hard as anybody, and now I'm ready to show them."
Orakpo also becomes the Longhorns' eighth Top 20 pick in the last six years following Michael Griffin (19, Tennessee Titans, 2007), Aaron Ross (20, New York Giants, 2007), Vince Young (3, Tennessee Titans, 2006), Michael Huff (7, Oakland Raiders, 2006), Cedric Benson (4, Chicago Bears, 2005), Derrick Johnson (15, Kansas City Chiefs, 2005), and Roy Williams (7, Detroit Lions, 2004).
Three Texas defensive ends have now been drafted in the last three years with Orakpo joining Tim Crowder (second round, Denver Broncos) and Brian Robison (fourth round, Minnesota Vikings) in 2007.
"He has the very unique quality that he's the strongest guy on our team, but he's so quick out of his stance," Brown said. "He has the ability to drop for a 3-4 defense if you want to run some zone blitz, but he's just so quick. He get around guards and tackles so quickly that we moved him around. That's the thing I think is so unique about him. He's determined, he's competitive, he's really strong, he's in great shape, he's already graduated, he's very bright, a team leader, and he was never in my office for anything other than being a great player and me being able to compliment him. I think he'll be that same way for the Redskins."
Orakpo's selection gives Mack Brown a first-round selection in eight of the last 11 drafts, including five of the last six.
"Redskins fans haven't seen this for a while," said ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper. "You had Charles Mann and Dexter Manley and they thought Jason Taylor would give them a boost, he did not. Now you get Orakpo out of Texas. You look at a guy, when he was at full strength, great pass rusher. For the Redskins, pass rusher has been a need for a couple years now. They got a guy that they did not think would be there at number 13."
"If you are a slow-footed tackle, you're going to have to reach to get [Orakpo]," Washington head coach Jim Zorn told Redskins.com. "He can change directions quickly. He has done a nice job chasing things down. He has a great acceleration. He had a good temperament. We liked the way he understands football. This wasn't out of his comfort zone. He was looking for the right place to come as well."
Redskins Executive VP/Football Operations Vinny Cerrato said the team spoke to five teams in an attempt to trade up to make sure they could select Orakpo, and they were fortunate the draft board allowed them to choose him in their original position.
"I had a long talk with Mack Brown the other day," Cerrato said. "I called him about Brian. Mack was my coach in college (at Iowa State), and I talked to him about Brian. He said the thing about him is he's a tremendous worker and all of those things, but he's a solid, great guy. He said, 'I don't know how I'll replace in the locker room with leadership. He's a leader on the field and a leader in the locker room when he talks to the team.' I think we got a class guy. We had Brian in the night of the Joe Gibbs dinner. We had dinner at the Ritz with he and (B.J.) Raji and Tyson Jackson. The three of them were all there. He's a classy, classy guy. He'll fit well in the locker room. He's a Redskins type of guy. He had all of the qualities we wanted in a player."
In 2008, Orakpo became Texas' 19th unanimous all-American and won the Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player), Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman) and Hendricks Award (nation's top defensive end), and was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Lott Trophy (nation's top defensive IMPACT player).
During that season, Orakpo, who earned his degree in youth and community studies in December, ranked in the top 10 nationally in sacks (11.5/sixth NCAA) and TFL (19/t-seventh) to go along with 42 tackles, 30 pressures and four forced fumbles.
For his career, Orakpo played in 47 games (21 starts) and posted 132 tackles, 22 sacks (T-10 on UT's all-time list), 38 TFL and 62 pressures.