(Editor's note: After a lot of consideration, I've decided to do capsule previews for the remaining few weeks leading up to the draft. It will allow me to cram in more prospects, if each in less detail. The players Seattle select will get the full tape breakdown throughout May and likely into June.)
Birthdate: July 31, 1986
Position: Defensive End
College: Texas, Played in 49 games
Notable Stats: 23 Sacks, 36 Quarterback Hurries, 34.5 tackles for a loss, 6 forced fumbles.
Combine: 4.70 forty, 39.5" vertical, 31 bench reps
My Take: I haven't spoken much about Orakpo, because I don't much want Seattle to draft Orakpo. That's not adequate, of course, and Orakpo is a legitimate target at four, or a couple picks later should Seattle trade down. The good news is that Orakpo is a beast when healthy. He has a rare blend of quickness and power and has enough of each to give most offensive tackles fits. He could be as good as Simeon Rice. Like Rice, Orakpo could contribute right away, beefing up Seattle's front four, and should Jackson develop, give Seattle an unrelenting rotation of defensive ends. Those expounding "win now" should love Orakpo, because he's the pick that's most likely to take an existing Seahawks unit and make it elite.
The downside is Seattle doesn't need a defensive end, he marginalizes or forces out Baraka Atkins, he marginalizes Darryl Tapp and maybe Lawrence Jackson, and he has an extensive and worrisome injury history. If we assume Cory Redding will play end in some capacity, Seattle has five starting capable defensive ends. Orakpo and Patrick Kerney would be the starters, Redding, Jackson and Tapp would cycle in and Atkins would be...cut? Seattle ran a three man rotation in 2008, and finding snaps for Jackson and Tapp would be difficult enough. Atkins would be scrapping for snaps and more likely deactivated. That's a shame, because Atkins is the kind of player you draft at 23 so he can produce when he's 25. In limited opportunities, he began to produce in 2008. He ranked third on the team in sacks per snap (1 per 109.5), behind Brandon Mebane (107.3) and Patrick Kerney (72.6). He flashed some speed off the snap to complement his very good athleticism and size, and though he lacks strength, he has the lanky build and easy musculature to grow stronger as he ages.
Orakpo has suffered two knee injuries in the past two seasons. He signed with Texas 50 pounds lighter than his current weight, and it's possible he's bulked up beyond his body's capabilities. He's weight room strong.
He likely forces Tapp out after this season, preventing Seattle from signing Tapp or just preventing Tapp from choosing to sign with Seattle. Tapp wants a shot to start and you can't blame him. That's an expensive exchange and without sure benefit.
If Seattle thinks Orakpo is the best player available at four, it still does not fully justify the move. Injuries make the downside immense, and the net benefit is only valuable if Orakpo proves to be something special. "Winning now" is a flawed concept. When a team that wins its first eighteen games of the season can't secure a Super Bowl victory, the better strategy is to maximize opportunities not take one. Big. Swing. At immortality. Orakpo is an interesting prospect and one whose talent deserves top ten consideration, but I don't think he's the right pick for Seattle at four.