You wouldn’t think that people who actually follow the Redskins would overrate anything Redskins-related, but I think that may be the case with Brian Orakpo, which is understandable.
He was a first-round pick, he has 26 sacks in his first 2.5 seasons and he’s co-starring in a national ad campaign with that zany caveman. But is he really that good? Redskins Confidential reporter John Keim, um, reports:
1. Orakpo remains a work in progress as a pass rusher, but the coaches still believe he’ll be a guy capable of 14 sacks. After last season Orakpo talked about adding more moves, but in reality what he’s done is learned how to rush inside the tackle better. He’s not someone who bases his game off moves. “Move are overrated,” he said. “That’s always been my game, reacting off what the tackle gives me. I’m always a guy that’s point A to point B. I’m not in my mind thinking I’m going to do this move. It’s never been like that.” Other top rushers do have more moves and this remains an area Orakpo must improve; he needs to add some sort of counter. The Redskins like his bull rush – actually, they wanted him to do it more vs. Miami left tackle Jake Long. They also say Orakpo has missed out on at least several sacks in which he just missed the quarterback. And though he only has a half-sack more than Ryan Kerrigan, even the coaches recognize that Orakpo is doubled much more often – or the protection slides his way — and typically faces a higher caliber of tackle. They expect this attention to continue even as Kerrigan improves. Orakpo, as has been mentioned several times, has improved his hands when engaging blockers allowing him to shed them better.
2. It’s telling to me that when I talk to people for my Expert’s Take – guys who have played or who make their living analyzing the game – they say the same thing about Orakpo: he’s good, but he’s not elite. Longtime scout Dave Razzano said of him: “He’s an OK player. I think he’s stiff. I don’t see a variety of moves. He’s OK in the run game. He was a flash guy in college. I don’t know how instinctive he is.”
I share all of that not just to provide a sanity check on Orakpo, but also to publicize Keim’s work. I ripped it clean from his weekly Skins newsletter (sign up here), which is highly recommended for the discerning Skins fan. This guy’s got moves.