We saw something unusual in the 2012 Redskins. The offense carried the defense that was missing Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker and Brandon Meriweather for most of the season. Tanard Jackson was suspended for the entire season. London Fletcher's lingering ankle injury left him gimpy most of the year.
Meriwether and Jackson's absence opened the door for Madieu Williams who, I suspect, the Redskins never expected to make the roster. They signed him as camp competition for Reed Doughty.
Orakpo and Carriker were the players most missed on defense. The subpar pass rush stressed aging London Fletcher and it demanded more of Washington's secondary than it could give. It's a new year and Rak says he's ready to do damage.
“I'm 100 percent, my body is feeling even better than what it was before as far as conditioning and strength-wise,” Orakpo told CSN Washington. “When you get hurt, you get to work on all the little muscles that you have a tendency to (overlook). It was a freak accident; it's nothing you can control.”
Except, it wasn't a freak. Orakpo tore the same muscle in 2011 Week 17 against the Eagles. Two tears requiring two 2012 surgeries on the same muscle should give one pause.
We see elite athletes recover fast. Sometimes, a speedy recovery kills too. (Not that we should apply that thinking to any other injured player on the roster. cough)
Orakpo is in the last year of his contract and anxious to prove he deserves a new one with Washington, or elsewhere. The Redskins would be glad to do it if assured that Orakpo will be a front line contributor through 2020. They cannot afford to sign a player who might be lost for a third time to the same injury. In that event, they might consider franchising Orakpo in 2014, then watch how things turn out.
Or they could simultaneously hedge against another injury to Orakpo and fix the secondary by drafting a defensive end or outside linebacker in the second round.
Why on Earth would the Redskins do that? Because GMs do not think like Mel Kiper and other Draft experts. Here is why they don't.
1. "Experts" talk of drafting to team needs. The more I see of perennial contenders like the Ravens, Giants and Patriots especially, the more obvious it is that they draft the best available player.
If Orakpo is a risk, and he is, of reinjuring his pec, why not hedge the risk by finding a potential replacement in the second round of the NFL Draft instead of a safety? Hog Heaven won't call it a "need." "Open to the idea" is a better description.
2. Who says you have to draft a DB to fix the secondary? Carlos Rogers became a much better cornerback when he joined a team with a much better pass rush. Rogers made eight interceptions in six seasons with Washington. He snagged seven in two seasons with San Francisco. Rogers did not change his hands in 'Frisco. He just changed his jersey.
By the way, we don't see INTs as the only measure of cornerbacks. It's not even the best because it doesn't measure coverage skills. Yes, Washington needs better players in the secondary, but they can get better play with a more effective pass rush. Call it the flip side of getting better O-line performance with a dual-threat quarterback.
3. Draft to strength instead of need. Mock drafts are fun to read. They represent the wisdom of the crowds. (50 million monkeys can't be wrong. Right?) But, they invariably play to team need. Why not draft draft to strength. Linebackers are a Redskins strength. A team's personality develops on its strengths.
Hog Heaven expects Orakpo to return healthy and for the Redskins to re-sign him in 2014. I gotta get more use out of that jersey.