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Defensive Rookie of the Year: Brian Orakpo?


The Commissioner
Aug 1, 2009
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Florida State
I have been thinking about this for a while since Rak has remained in the top 10 in sacks for much of the season. With this past week's performance we all see his potential for greatness. Dexter Manley without the drama, perhaps? I strongly believe that if he continues to play as well as he did this past weekend over the next 3 games, especially since those games will get a lot of national media attention due to their implications, he is probably a shoe-in. But should we question whether his overall play thus far, including his coverage skills and run defense, warrants rookie of the year?

Granted he is playing out of position and I think that should be considered, but there is another rookie linebacker who is playing in position and is not getting burned on pass defense while playing on the #2 defense in the NFL on a team who still has a remote chance to win their division. I am talking about Clay Matthews in Green Bay.

Before this weekend's performance by Orakpo, I would have definitely gone with Matthews. Long term, I do not see Matthews in the same category as Orakpo, but his play, particularly in pass protection, has been better all around this season, largely due to Orakpo playing out of position.

Now, I know the next three weeks will determine the ultimate outcome. I believe Orakpo has just begun to shine, while Matthews has shined throughout the season. I attribute this to the national exposure Matthews has received playing on a team that is in the playoff hunt. I also believe that this will play part in the voting for rookie of the year.

Ultimately, I think Orakpo should and will win Defensive Rookie of the Year. His play over the next few weeks should solidify his consideration. I am simply suggesting that if he does not win it will be largely due to the fact that he does not play on a playoff caliber team. Coupled with his team and his overall abilities as a natural LB, I think Clay Matthews could edge him out in the voting.
Here's some trivia:
Dexter Manley had an 11 sack year in his third year.
That's right...third.
Orakpo still has 3 games left and has already done that as a rookie.
What Orakpo has done has been amazing and last week's game was without Haynesworth, so it's not just big Al.

So more or less, the kid is talented.

I watched Matthews play in a few games and the guy is pretty damn good. Now maybe he's playing in an ideal spot....who knows.

I do know that Orakpo had to learn two different positions this season and never was badly out of position or smoked by a TE despite having little experience as a SLB.

I'd give the DRotY to Orakpo, but I'm biased.

Matthews will probably get it based on the record more or less and if he does get it I won't feel that Brian was robbed b/c Matthews legitimately deserves it also.

But Orakpo has earned the honor no doubt.
When Washington selected Brian Orakpo with the 13th pick at the 2009 draft no one around the NFL, including the Redskins, were quite sure whether the former Texas star could play DE at the next level in a 4-3 scheme or would be forced to lineup as an OLB. The Redskins seemed to have solved the problem, at least for now, by using Orakpo as both a DE at times and as a LB at others depending on the circumstances. What no one around the league is questioning these days, tough, is whether Orakpo can rush the passer. Indeed, Orakpo put an exclamation point on what has been an outstanding rookie season so far this year, when he rang up 4 sacks in Sunday’s convincing 34-13 win over the Raiders in Oakland. In the process, Orakpo became the first rookie to record as many as four sacks in the same game in over two decades; they also tied the Redskins’ franchise record for sacks in a single game. All that was plenty to earn Orakpo this week’s GBN 'Rookie of the Week’ award. For the record, Orakpo now has 11 sacks on the season t lead all rookies in that category. In fact, Orakpo is currently tied with teammate Andre Carter for 4th in the league in overall sacks.

Orakpo, though, was not the only rookie to record multiple sacks this past weekend. The other source wasn’t quite as expected as undrafted Cleveland DE Marcus Benard had a pair of sacks to help the sad-sack (no pun intended) Browns stun defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh last Thursday night. And while needless to say Orakpo widened his lead among NFL’s rookie sackers, he still can’t quite shake the #2 guy, Green Bay DE Clay Matthews, who had his 8th sack of the year in the Packers win over division-rival Chicago. Matthews former USC teammate, Houston LB Brian Cushing, also had a sack this weekend, while two Oakland rookies, DE Matt Shaugnessy and DB Mike Mitchell had sacks for the Raiders in the same game that Orakpo had his four-bagger. Meanwhile, Buffalo DB Jairus Byrd added to his league-leading rookie interception total with his 9th pick of the season to seal the Bills’ win in Kansas City, while Jacksonville CB Derek Cox, Denver DB Darcel McBath also had interceptions, although the latter broke his arm later in the game and will miss the rest of the year.

Brian could go a long way toward sealing DROY with a big night against the Giants on MNF. There is no bigger regular-season stage. And it wouldn't do my heart any damage to see him rag-doll Baby Manning around a little either.

Nothing personal, Eli. :cool:
Or doing the same against Romo the following week on Sunday Night Football, maybe?

For all that I love the 11 sacks he has, it is the one that got away from him on the play Dallas scored the TD on back a couple weeks ago that I keep thinking about. That would have ended the game and given Washington it's first shutout in a long time.
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I think the front-runner right now is Brian Cushing in Houston, but Orakpo is a strong #2. I voted for him!
I think the front-runner right now is Brian Cushing in Houston, but Orakpo is a strong #2. I voted for him!

Thanks for shedding some light on this kid. Damn USC has put some real quality players in the NFL since Carrol has taken over.

His 112 tackles are 6th in the league and more than double Brian and Matthews. He only has 2.5 sacks but that could be scheme. I don't know what Houston's defense plays.

I still think that with a strong showing, a sack or 2 against the Giants in prime time, and strong showing in the last 2 games coming close or breaking the rookie sack record will win it for him.

I think Cushing could get lost in the shuffle like London Fletcher has over the years because he doesn't have the sexy NFL numbers like Orakpo does with his sack count. How many times should London Fletcher, the leading tackler in the NFL over the past 10 years, been overlooked for the Pro Bowl? Could this happen to Cushing if Orakpo has a couple more multi sack games?
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If Rak breaks the rookie record, I think he's a shoo-in. If not, it'll be close. Demeco Ryans won a couple years ago, and didn't have the sexy stats either.

Or, if Rak makes a big play or even scores a touchdown on Monday night, he's a shoo-in. Need the trifecta - sack, forced-fumble, TD. That would do it!

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