Brian Orakpo

Brian Orakpo
refer to caption
Orakpo with the Washington Redskins in 2014
No. 98
Position: Outside linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1986-07-31) July 31, 1986 (age 34)
Houston, Texas
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight: 257 lb (117 kg)
Career information
High school: Lamar (Houston, Texas)
College: Texas
NFL Draft: 2009 / Round: 1 / Pick: 13
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles: 423
Sacks: 66.0
Forced fumbles: 12
Interceptions: 1
Pass deflections: 31
Defensive touchdowns: 1
Player stats at NFL.com

Brian Ndubisi Orakpo (born July 31, 1986) is a former American football outside linebacker who played 10 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Texas, was recognized as a unanimous All-American, and was drafted by the Washington Redskins with the thirteenth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He also played for Tennessee Titans, and was selected to four Pro Bowls.

Early years

Orakpo was born on July 31, 1986, in Houston, Texas to parents Gloria and Arthur Orakpo, who are immigrants from Nigeria.[1] He has two younger siblings, Jennifer and Michael.[2] Orakpo played high school football at Lamar High School in Houston, Texas.[3] He played defensive end and tight end and was a two-time First-team all-district selection for the Texans football team. In addition, he played basketball from his freshman to junior years.[4]

College career

Orakpo as a Texas Longhorn.

Orakpo attended the University of Texas, where he played for coach Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns football team from 2004 to 2008.[5] He was redshirted as a freshman in 2004, but in 2005 he played in all 13 games and started in one. He made an immediate impact for the Longhorns, helping them finish 10th in the nation at 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 - and helped the Longhorns obtain their fourth National Championship.

As a sophomore in 2006, he played all 13 games, recording 26 tackles and 4.5 sacks and was named one of the Lowe's Most Improved Defensive Players.[6] 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 against Arizona State after recording six tackles and two sacks during the game.[7][8] He finished the season with 37 tackles and 5.5 sacks.[9]

As a senior in 2008, Orakpo recorded 40 tackles and 11.5 sacks and was the Associated Press Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.[10][11][12] He also was the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the best defensive player,[13] the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the top defensive end,[14] The Bill Willis Trophy given to the top collegiate defensive lineman, and the Lombardi Award, given to the best lineman or linebacker.[15] He was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American, after receiving first-team honors from the Associated Press,[16] American Football Coaches Association,[17] Football Writers Association of America,[18] The Sporting News,[19] and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.[20] He was the first Texas Longhorn defensive end to earn All-American honors since Tony Brackens in 1995.[21]

In his college career, Orakpo recorded 132 tackles, 22 sacks, 38 tackles for loss, 62 pressures, six passes broken up, six forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

Professional career

Orakpo attended the NFL Combine with much anticipation due to his well-known reputation as a "workout warrior".[21][22] His 31 reps in the bench press ranked second among all defensive ends and seventh best among all defensive linemen. His 39.5-inch vertical jump was second for all defensive lineman, and he showed his speed and acceleration while recording a 4.63 40-yard dash time.[23] At the conclusion of the pre-draft process, Orakpo was projected to be a first round pick by NFL draft experts and scouts. He was ranked the best defensive end/outside linebacker prospect in the draft by NFL analyst Bucky Brooks, was ranked the second best defensive end by DraftScout.com, and was ranked the second best outside linebacker in the draft by NFL analyst Mike Mayock.[24][25]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press Wonderlic
6 ft 3 in
(1.91 m)
263 lb
(119 kg)
4.63 s 1.58 s 2.66 s 4.45 s 7.26 s 39 1⁄2 in
(1.00 m)
10 ft 10 in
(3.30 m)
31 reps 25
All values from NFL Combine/Texas' Pro Day[27][28][29]

Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins selected Orakpo in the first round (13th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. Orakpo was the third defensive end drafted in 2009.[30]

On July 31, 2009, the Washington Redskins signed Orakpo to a five-year, $15.33 million contract that included $11.69 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $6.36 million.[31][32][33]

Orakpo during a Redskins' preseason game in 2009.

Head coach Jim Zorn named Orakpo the starting strongside linebacker to begin the regular season, along with Rocky McIntosh and middle linebacker London Fletcher.[34]

Orakpo made his NFL debut and first start in the season-opener against the New York Giants and recorded two solo tackles in a 23–17 road loss.[35] During Week 3, he recorded four combined tackles and made his first NFL sack during a 19–14 loss at the Detroit Lions. Orakpo made his first career sack on quarterback Matthew Stafford for an eight-yard loss in the third quarter.[36] In the next game, he collected a season-high seven combined tackles and a sack in a 16–13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[37] During Week 14, Orakpo made six combined tackles and a season-high four sacks as the Redskins defeated the Oakland Raiders by a score 34–13.[38] Orakpo had a sack on Bruce Gradkowski and three sacks on Jamarcus Russell and tied the Redskins' single-game sack record.[39] He earned the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance. On December 30, 2009, it was announced that Orakpo was selected to play in the 2010 Pro Bowl and was the only rookie to be initially voted to the NFC roster.[40] Orakpo became the first Redskins' rookie to make the Pro Bowl since RB/KR Tony Green in 1978.

Orakpo finished his rookie year 50 combined tackles (37 solo), a career-high 11 sacks, and two pass deflections in 16 games and starts.[41]

On January 4, 2010, the Redskins fired head coach Jim Zorn after they finished with a 4–12 record in 2009.[42] The Washington Redskins hired Jim Haslett as their new defensive coordinator and installed a base 3-4 defense. Head coach Mike Shanahan named Orakpo and Andre Carter the starting outside linebackers to begin the regular season, along with inside linebackers London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh.[43]

During Week 4, Orakpo recorded three combined tackles and a season-high a two sacks on quarterback Aaron Rodgers during a 16–13 win over the Green Bay Packers.[44] In Week 10, he collected a season-high eight combined tackles and was credited with half a sack during a 59–28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.[45] Orakpo was sidelined for the Week 16 victory at the Jacksonville Jaguars after sustaining a hamstring injury the previous week.[46]

Orakpo finished his second professional season with 56 combined tackles (36 solo), 8.5 sacks, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble in 15 games and starts.[41] On January 23, 2011, it was announced that he would play in the 2011 Pro Bowl as a replacement for Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III who was appearing in Super Bowl XLV.[47] On January 30, 2011, Orakpo recorded seven combined tackles as part of the NFC during their 55–41 victory against the AFC.[48]

Head coach Mike Shanahan named Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan the starting outside linebackers to start the regular season, along with inside linebackers London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh.[49]

During Week 4 against the St. Louis Rams, Orakpo recorded five combined tackles, a forced fumble, and had a season-high 2.5 sacks on Rams' quarterback Sam Bradford during a 17–10 road victory.[50] His performance earned him the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award.[51] Three weeks later, he collected a season-high six combined tackles and a sack in a 33–20 road loss against the Carolina Panthers.[52] In the regular-season finale, Orakpo recorded three solo tackles and made two sacks during a 34–10 road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.[53] He exited the game after suffering an injury to his left shoulder and pectoral muscle after sacking Michael Vick in the second quarter.

On January 10, 2012, it was reported that Orakpo successfully underwent surgery to repair his shoulder.[54] Orakpo was selected as an alternate for the 2012 Pro Bowl along with teammates, London Fletcher and Lorenzo Alexander.[55] He finished his third season with 59 combined tackles (34 solo), nine sacks, and five pass deflections in 16 games and starts.[41]

Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan returned as the starting outside linebackers to begin the regular season, along with London Fletcher and Perry Riley.[56]

During Week 2, Orakpo recorded three solo tackles and a sack before exiting the 31-28 road loss against the St. Louis Rams after tearing his pectoral muscle.[57][58] On September 18, 2012, the Redskins officially placed Orakpo on injured reserve after confirming he would have to undergo surgery to repair his torn pectoral muscle and would miss the rest of the season.[59]

Orakpo finished the season with five solo tackles, three pass deflections, and a sack in two games and starts.[41]

During Week 4, Orakpo recorded four combined tackles, a season-high two sacks, and broke up two passes during a 24–14 road victory against the Oakland Raiders.[60] Three weeks later, he recorded four combined tackles, a pass deflection, and returned an interception for his first NFL touchdown during a 45–41 victory against the Chicago Bears.[61][62] Orakpo intercepted a pass by quarterback Jay Cutler, that was intended for wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.[63] During Week 13, Orakpo recorded six combined tackles and tied his season-high of two sacks during a 24–17 loss to the New York Giants. Orakpo was inactive for the Redskins' Week 17 loss as the New York Giants due a ground injury he sustained the previous week.[64] On December 30, 2013, the Washington Redskins fired head coach Mike Shanahan after they finished with a 3–13 record.[65]

Orakpo finished the season with a career-high 60 combined tackles (43 solo), ten sacks, four pass deflections, an interception, and a touchdown in 15 games and starts.[41] On January 21, 2014, it was announced that he would play in the 2014 Pro Bowl as a replacement for Ahmad Brooks who withdrew from the game.[66]

On March 3, 2014, the Redskins applied their non-exclusive franchise tag on Orakpo which allowed them to match any contract offer by other teams attempting to sign him.[67] On March 27, 2014, he signed his one-year, $11.45 million franchise tender.[68]

New head coach Jay Gruden retained defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and opted to retain the base 3-4 defense. He named Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan the starting outside linebackers to begin the regular season, along with inside linebackers Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley.[69] During Week 5, he collected a season-high eight combined tackles during a 27–17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. On October 19, 2014, Orakpo made one tackle before exiting in the fourth quarter of the Redskins' 19–17 win against the Tennessee Titans due to an injury to his right shoulder.[70] The following day, it was announced that Orakpo had torn his pectoral muscle and was expected to miss the rest of the season.[71] On October 21, 2014, the Redskins officially placed him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.[72]

Orakpo finished the 2014 season with 24 combined tackles (14 solo), a pass deflection, and was credited with half a sack in seven games and starts.[41] He became an unrestricted free agent in 2015 and was regarded as the top free agent linebacker available. He attended a private meeting with the Tennessee Titans and had a meeting scheduled with the Arizona Cardinals.[73]

Tennessee Titans

On March 13, 2015, the Tennessee Titans signed Orakpo to a four-year, $31 million contract with $13.50 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $5 million.[74][33]

Orakpo entered training camp slated as the starting right outside linebacker. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt named Orakpo and Derrick Morgan the starting outside linebackers to begin the regular season, along with inside linebackers Avery Williamson and Zach Brown.[75]

On October 21, 2015, Orakpo was announced as the Titans' defensive captain. It marked the first time he was named a team captain during his career.[76] On November 3, 2015, the Tennessee Titans fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt after the Titans began the season with a 1–6 record. Tight ends coach Mike Mularkey was promoted to interim head coach for the remainder of the season.[77] During Week 9, Orakpo recorded four combined tackles, deflected a pass, and had a season-high two sacks on quarterback Drew Brees during a 34–28 overtime road victory against the New Orleans Saints.[78] In the next game, he had a season-high six combined tackles and a sack as the Titans lost 27–10 to the Carolina Panthers in Week 10.[79]

Orakpo finished his first season with the Titans with 51 combined tackles (38 solo), seven sacks, and five pass deflections in 16 games and starts.[41] Orakpo received an overall grade of 80.7 from Pro Football Focus in 2015.[80]

The Titans retained head coach Mike Mularkey and hired Dick LeBeau as their new defensive coordinator. Mularkey named Orakpo and Derrick Morgan the starting outside linebackers to begin the regular season, along with inside linebackers Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard.[81]

During Week 5, Orakpo collected a season-high six combined tackles and sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill twice during a 30–17 road victory against the Miami Dolphins.[82] On December 20, 2016, it was announced that Orakpo was named to the 2017 Pro Bowl roster.[83]

Orakpo finished the 2016 season with 46 combined tackles (38 solo), 10.5 sacks, four pass deflections, and a forced fumble in 16 games and starts.[41] He was also ranked 78th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.[84]

Head coach Mike Mularkey retained Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Wesley Woodyard, and Avery Williamson as the starting linebackers in 2017.[85]

During a Week 2 37-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Orakpo forced a fumble off of quarterback Blake Bortles, which was recovered by teammate Erik Walden.[86] During Week 12, Orakpo recorded four combined tackles and a season-high 1.5 sacks during a 20–16 road victory against the Indianapolis Colts.[87] During Week 16, he collected a season-high six combined tackles in a 27–23 loss against the Los Angeles Rams.[88]

Orakpo finished the 2017 season 44 combined tackles (30 solo), seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and two pass deflections in 16 games and starts.[41] Pro Football Focus gave Orakpo an overall grade of 78.2, which ranked as the 29th best grade among all qualifying edge rushers in 2017.[89] The Titans finished second in the AFC South with a 9–7 record and qualified for the playoffs as a Wild Card team.[90] On January 6, 2018, Orakpo started in his first career playoff game and recorded two combined tackles and 1.5 sacks during a narrow 22–21 road victory against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card Round. The following week, he recorded two combined tackles as the Titans lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round on the road by a score of 35-14.[91]

Orakpo missed the final three games of the season due to an elbow injury.[92] He finished the 2018 with 28 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three passes defensed, and a forced fumble in 13 games starting all of them.[93]

Retirement

On December 31, 2018, Orakpo announced his retirement from the NFL after 10 seasons.[94]

NFL statistics

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Comb Total Ast Sck Int Yds Avg Lng TD PD FF FR
2009 WSH 16 16 50 37 13 11.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 2 1 0
2010 WSH 15 15 56 36 20 8.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 2 1 0
2011 WSH 16 16 59 34 25 9.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 5 3 1
2012 WSH 2 2 5 5 0 1.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 3 1 0
2013 WSH 15 15 60 43 17 10.0 1 29 29.0 29T 1 4 0 2
2014 WSH 7 7 24 14 10 0.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0
2015 TEN 16 16 51 38 13 7.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 5 1 0
2016 TEN 16 16 46 38 8 10.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 4 1 0
2017 TEN 16 16 44 30 14 7.0 0 0 0.0 0 0 2 3 0
2018 TEN 13 13 28 18 10 1.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 3 1 0
Career 132 132 423 293 130 66.0 1 29 29.0 29T 1 31 12 3

[95]

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Comb Total Ast Sck Int Yds Avg Lng TD PD FF FR
2017 TEN 2 2 4 2 2 1.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0
Career 2 2 4 2 2 1.5 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0

Personal life

Among Orakpo's endorsement contracts included one he signed in August 2011 with Geico,[96] and he has appeared in several commercials with one of that company's "caveman" spokespeople. While with the Redskins, Orakpo also appeared in several commercials for Eastern Motors, a D.C. area car dealership.[97][98] Brian married his wife Bitura in 2009. They have three children together: Brian, Brianna (2013), and Brea (November 2017). In 2018, Orakpo and Tennessee Titans teammate Michael Griffin opened a franchise of Gigi's Cupcakes outside Austin, Texas with their friend, Bryan Hynson.[99]

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