Hours after they released former Pro Bowl linebacker Marcus Washington, the Redskins‘ search for his replacement began when they told Texas standout Brian Orakpo they envision him as the strongside linebacker in their 4-3 defense.
The top pass rusher in the draft, Orakpo is out to prove he’s versatile enough to play defensive end and linebacker regardless of the scheme.
“The Redskins said I could be a ‘Sam’ backer in their 4-3 and, when it’s time to rush the passer, get down to it,” he said Saturday at the NFL scouting combine.
“Get down to it” equals get to the passer, which Orakpo did 11.5 times last year for the Longhorns. The Redskins have an obvious need in the pass-rushing department. They posted an NFC-worst 24 sacks in 2008.
Because Orakpo played well in both the 4-3 and 3-4 schemes during his college career and because his numbers improved each year despite a variety of roles, he sees himself as a player who can pay immediate dividends.
“Right end, left end, ‘Sam,’ ‘Will’ [weakside linebacker], ‘Mike’ [middle linebacker] - 3-4 or 4-3 - it’s doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m not a guy who they have to project and or say has the potential to play the 4-3 or 3-4 - I’ve played in both. I’ve done it.”
Orakpo checked in at 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds; he is slated to do defensive lineman and linebacker workouts Monday. He credited his improved production last year (42 tackles, 19 for loss) to playing for new coordinator Will Muschamp’s 3-4 alignment.
“He was a guy that stressed fundamentals,” Orakpo said. “We had walkthroughs like crazy to make sure everybody was on the same page so there wouldn’t be any busts on game day.”
Crabtree needs surgery
Texas Tech receiver and projected top-five pick Michael Crabtree will need surgery for a stress fracture on his left foot. The injury was discovered during medical testing Friday.
According to NFL.com, Crabtree’s recovery time is 10 weeks, so he can’t do any predraft workouts. Chicago coach Lovie Smith and Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli said they don’t expect Crabtree’s draft stock to plummet dramatically.
“I don’t know if you lose out, because a lot of people here won’t work out,” Pioli said. “You have a bunch of tape on him. From our standpoint, we evaluate how they play - not just how they run [at the combine].”
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