ASHBURN, Va. | Brian Orakpo was picked for the Pro Bowl on Tuesday, making him the first Washington Redskins rookie to make the NFL’s all-star game in 31 years.
Orakpo is the only member of the Redskins (4-11) to make this season’s Pro Bowl — meaning middle linebacker London Fletcher was left out yet again. Orakpo credited Fletcher, a 12th-year player never chosen for a Pro Bowl, and defensive end Andre Carter with making his transition from college to the NFL easier.
“Those guys really helped me. If I could give my spot up to those guys, I would, in a heartbeat. They’ve done so much for me,” Orakpo said. “Fletcher has done so much for me. He deserves it just as much as me, if not more.”
After being the 13th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft as a defensive end out of Texas, Orakpo learned to play outside linebacker, and that’s the position at which he made the NFC roster for the Pro Bowl, which is Jan. 31 in Miami.
He has 11 sacks and 58 tackles, but spoke Tuesday about wishing the Redskins had fared better as a team.
“Pro Bowl and all this other stuff didn’t really come across my mind. I was just so disappointed by this season,” Orakpo said.
His sack total leads NFL rookies and is tied with DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys for most among NFC linebackers.
“He has demonstrated to be durable and explosive,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “His work ethic and practice habits have not only helped him individually, but made our team better.”
The only other Redskins rookie to make the Pro Bowl was kick returner Tony Green in the 1978 season.
Orakpo is the only rookie on this season’s NFC squad. Two rookies made the AFC roster: Houston linebacker Brian Cushing and Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd.
“It really humbles me, because it shows people are watching and really know what I can do out there,” Orakpo said. “I appreciate this honor and hopefully will get some more in the future — and turn this team around, as well.”