Friday, April 24, 2009

Patriots targeting Orakpo?

A quick break from Red Sox-Yankees coverage:

Peter King is reporting that the Patriots are trying to move into the eighth or ninth spot of Saturday's first round. Given the way Bill Belichick has talked about trades, it's likely they have a specific player in mind.

"You trade up for someone in the first round in the top 10 or so, you are going for a specific guy," Belichick told reporters at his press conference on Tuesday. "How much that guy is worth to you is how much you are willing to give up. It might be high based on what other people think, but if that’s what you think the player brings to your team, then it’s worth giving it up."

Writes King, "Who might be the object of their affection? I'm told it may be a surprise, because smart money would say the target is LSU's Tyson Jackson, the best 3-4 defensive end in the draft and the only end versatile enough to play every spot on the defensive line. But I'm not sure it's Jackson. I think it might be an offensive player. Sorry to be so cryptic, but I truly don't know."

Jackson? Really?

There are a couple of reasons why Jackson doesn't make sense here. For one thing, there's no guarantee he'll be around at No. 8 or No. 9; King's colleague Don Banks has him going No. 9 to Green Bay, but the Raiders and Jaguars could use some help on the defensive line, too.

Another name, though, ought to be a little more intriguing: Texas combo end Brian Orakpo, the top pass-rusher in the draft. According to's draft scouts, "Technique needs refining. But he has elite natural pass-rushing skills. Explodes off the line and bends the corner nicely. Displays excellent closing burst to the QB. He's agile and can smoothly change directions on double moves. Also shows jarring punch to knock OT's off balance."

He played mostly defensive end at Texas, winning the Ted Hendricks Award as college football's best at that position. But Belichick loves taking defensive ends and turning them into linebackers, and Orakpo sounds like someone right out of the Willie McGinest/Mike Vrabel mold. (Texas even installed some 3-4 defense a year ago when defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, a former Nick Saban assistant and thus Bill Belichick Coaching Tree offshoot, came on board.)

He'll be long gone by the time the Patriots draft at No. 23. But if they deal that No. 23 pick along with a second-round to move into the top 10, Orakpo might be a perfect fit.

No comments: