- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 26, 2009

After all the hype over the Redskins’ attempted trade for Jay Cutler and their flirtation with trading up for Mark Sanchez, Jason Campbell will begin the 2009 season where he finished 2008 - as Washington’s starting quarterback.

Despite the selection of Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo at 13th overall, that was still the biggest development Saturday for the Redskins. No quarterback controversy. No divided locker room.

Q: So Orakpo was the Redskins’ top choice all along?

A: That was the feeling going all the way back to the combine in mid-February. They think he’s the elite pass-rusher they’ve lacked since Charles Mann’s glory days ended in 1991, which not so coincidentally was their last Super Bowl season.

Q: What makes this guy so special?

A: Redskins front office boss Vinny Cerrato raves about Orakpo’s speed off the edge and explosiveness.

Q: I like the pick, but there’s always a downside. What is it?

A: Coach Jim Zorn admitted that playing the run isn’t Orakpo’s forte. That’s also the case for fellow starting end Andre Carter. With the undersized H.B. Blades playing behind Orakpo, the Redskins will be vulnerable to the power runs of Dallas’ Marion Barber and the Giants’ Brandon Jacobs to the left side of the defense. After he was picked, Orakpo said he knows stopping the run is paramount in the NFC East and that he’s confident he can handle the job.

Q: So were all the Sanchez rumors just a smoke screen?

A: The Redskins aren’t that wily. Cerrato said the Redskins tried to trade up for the Southern Cal quarterback. However, the New York Jets made the Cleveland Browns, coached by former Jets coach Eric Mangini, a superior offer and moved up from No. 17 to No. 5.

Q: The Redskins signed $100 million defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in the first hours of free agency and used their only choice among the draft’s first two rounds on another defensive lineman. Is this a change in philosophy for an organization that hadn’t taken a defensive lineman above the fifth round during the previous 12 drafts?

A: Cerrato said no, but you have to wonder. The last defensive lineman to go to the Redskins in the first round was Miami end Kenard Lang 17th overall in 1997.

Q: So what does Orakpo’s presence mean for Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn?

A: It means the veteran ends - Daniels is 36 and missed all of last year with a knee injury, and Wynn will be 34 in September and was a backup the past three years - are competing to back up the kid.

Q: Does Orakpo have a bad knee like linebacker Rocky McIntosh, whom the Redskins took in the second round in 2006 and receiver Malcolm Kelly (second, 2008)?

A: Orakpo downplayed that talk, as any player would.

Q: What did you think of Oakland taking Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey eighth?

A: It was a surprise only in that Al Davis picked him instead of Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin, who was considered the draft’s No. 1 speed receiver. But the Raiders owner has been fascinated with speed receivers dating back to Warren Wells, the counterpart of Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff in the late 1960s.

Q: What do the Redskins do Sunday?

A: Washington has four picks: a third, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh. Cerrato is already talking about trading down and taking the proverbial best player available, but there’s no doubt the Redskins’ biggest needs are strongside linebacker and offensive tackle. They could also use a cornerback in case Carlos Rogers leaves as a free agent next winter and a center who could step in if Casey Rabach gets hurt.

Q: Is there an interesting back story to Orakpo?

A: While he grew up in Houston, Orakpo isn’t your ordinary Texan. His parents immigrated to Texas from Nigeria with virtually no money and worked hard to put themselves through Texas Southern University. Orakpo’s father is a car dealer, and his mother owns a rehab center. Orakpo also has a degree in history and is close to another in communications, so he must be a pretty smart guy.

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