Biggs: Orakpo a rare rookie treat for Blache
It might be hard to find at times, but there is a silver lining in this season for the Washington Redskins, and that is first-round draft pick Brian Orakpo.
The outside linebacker/defensive end was named NFC defensive player of the week for his four-sack effort in Sunday’s victory at Oakland, which tied a franchise record, and he’s got 11 sacks on the season.
Now, if the Redskins can do as well with another high first-round pick this time around, they’ll have a nice nucleus to build from moving forward.
It became evident early on that Orakpo was going to have an opportunity to make an impact quickly. Defensive coordinator Greg Blache has famous disdain for rookies, but that didn’t stop him from moving Orakpo to the top of the depth chart by mid-August. He hasn’t disappointed, and now has to be in the conversation for defensive rookie of the year.
“I don't like rookies. There've been very few over the years. I can count them on one hand,’’ Blache said. “But this guy is right up there with Charles Tillman and Mike Brown. Urlacher didn't start right away for me. Tillman didn't start right away. This guy has started the whole way.
“He's not a great player dropping into coverage yet, but he's a good player. Very few defensive ends that come out of college with their hand down and convert to linebacker become a great player in pass coverage. He's got some natural, innate ability. He has a good sense of awareness on drops. When I first saw him in the spring time, I was utterly amazed. I thought we'd play him at sam. I thought we'd have to bring him a bunch and drop him just a little to throw people off, but once I saw him handle it, I saw him cover people man-to-man and handle the zones and learn the concepts, I knew we had something here.
"I saw more of a linebacker than I anticipated. I saw a guy who all of a sudden, whoa, this isn't going to a classic hybrid who's really a pass rusher that you play at linebacker. This is a guy who you knew would grow into being a quality linebacker off the line of scrimmage, as well as rushing the passer.
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