No need for an introduction here. The work speaks for itself, as per usual from maryrose. A great pick for a team not so likely to make a great pick. Next up? The Cincinnati Bengals, repped by Pixburgh Arn. - Blitz-
The Cleveland Browns, media darlings to win the AFC North just a year ago, returned to form with a 4-12 season following their aberration 10-6 campaign in 2007. Prior to 2007, the Browns averaged five wins per season since the team came back to town in 1999. In that short period of time, the revolving door of coaches and front office personnel has been only part of the total embarrassment. This year's spring housecleaning included coach, general manager and several others. The Browns have now had as many head coaches since 2004 as the Pittsburgh Steelers have had in 40 years.
Cleveland fans these days are more frustrated than a dog chasing a sausage vendor. The last time the Browns or anyone else from Cleveland won a title, Barack Obama was three years old, Americans thought Vietnam was just another rice paddy and the salary of a Cleveland firefighter who would someday extinguish the infested Cuyahoga River was a mere $6,600 per year. The Browns are looking forward to the day when their players accrue more victories than staph infections, and they are counting on the 2009 NFL Draft to begin the turnaround.
The good news for the Browns is they are not engaging in the universal argument to either draft the best player available or draft for need. When their time comes to pick fifth, whoever the best player is will fill one of the their multitude of needs. Defensively the Browns feature Shaun Rogers, a beast in the middle of the line, who realizes now that there is nothing around him. Estranged from new Head Coach Eric Mangini before the two ever met, Rogers already is screaming to get out of town. On one side of Rogers is Robaire Smith, who ruptured his Achilles and is amidst the long road to recovery. On the other side is Shaun Smith, who decided it was high time to know what it felt like to hit a quarterback, so he clocked his own guy, Brady Quinn, in the team's training facility. Behind Rogers is one linebacker (Willie McGinnest) off to the sunset and another (Kamerion Wimbley) who thus far is a major bust for a high first-round pick.
Enter Brian Orakpo, a 6-3, 263-pound hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker from Texas who ran the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in impressive 4.63 time. Orakpo will do what the Browns perhaps need most, rush the passer. The Browns 17 sacks last year, one more than James Harrison, was second worst in the NFL. Orakpo is a LaMarr Woodley-type who played mostly defensive end in college, but has the quickness to play outside backer in the NFL. Orakpo is one of the most accomplished pass rushers on the draft board. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Year on the strength of his 11.5 sacks.
Orakpo would come to Cleveland with plenty of hardware. As a senior in 2008, he was the Associated Press Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He also was the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the nation's best defensive player, the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the top defensive end and the Lombardi Award, given to the best lineman or linebacker. He eventually garnered enough first-team All-American selections to be considered a "Unanimous Consensus" First-Team All-American after being heralded by the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News and The Walter Camp Football Foundation.
"In a perfect world I just want to rush the passer, first through fourth down," Orakpo said. "So any position I can do what I naturally do best -- getting after the passer -- is what I'd like to do. It's not all about the sacks, it's all about pressure."
Orakpo was redshirted as a freshman in 2004, but in 2005 he played in all 13 games, starting once. He made an immediate impact for the Longhorns helping them finish 10th in the nation on defense, recording 27 tackles, a half sack, a forced fumble and recovered fumble. His play earned him Defensive Freshman-of-the-Year and First-Team Freshman All-America by The Sporting News.
As a sophomore in 2006, Orakpo played all 13 games, recording 26 tackles and 4.5 sacks and was named one of the Lowe's Most Improved Defensive Players. As a junior in 2007, he played in nine games and missed four due to right knee injury suffered against Arkansas State. He was the Defensive MVP of the 2007 Holiday Bowl after recording six tackles and two sacks during the game. He finished the season with 37 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
STRENGTHS: Orakpo is a physical specimen who is an beast of an athlete. He is blessed with outstanding speed, quickness and burst and has great acceleration. He is actually both smooth and graceful for a man his size, and is relentless in pursuit. Orakpo is primarily a pass rusher with a knack to bat down balls. He is comfortable in space and has superb range. The Browns will get a hard-working competitor who will bring intensity to their defense. He is still improving his upside.
WEAKNESSES: Orakpo has tried hard to improve his run defense, but still has a ways to go. He is not hard to block occasionally and sometimes has trouble shedding those protecting the ball carrier. He also needs to develop some more pass-rush moves. He'll find that he needs more in the NFL than what he used on the college level. Some question his durability due to a four-game knee injury as a college junior, but I think that is unfair. His hands aren't the best. He was hot and cold at Texas and must bring a consistent mindset on every play.