Help coming for Orakpo, Redskins D

Help coming for Orakpo, Redskins D
April 29, 2011, 1:01 am
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Thursday, April 28, 2011, 9:04 p.m. UPDATED 11:24 p.m.

RECAP OF FIRST ROUND

By Ryan OHalloran
Redskins InsiderCSNwashington.com

Quickly after the Redskins coaching staff began surveying the defensive wreckage that was last years performance, they concluded finding an effective outside linebacker to play opposite Brian Orakpo would be their top draft priority.

Even if it meant passing on a quarterback.

After moving down six spots and acquiring Jacksonvilles second round choice, the Redskins went about improving their 31st-ranked defense by drafting Purdues Ryan Kerrigan at No. 16 in the NFL Draft Thursday night.

Kerrigan, a college defensive end, will be converted to linebacker but will also return to the line in certain situations.

We needed somebody opposite Rak to put some pressure on the passer, Shanahan said. Anytime you can slide toward a guy like Brian, you would like to have another dominating pass rusher on the other side and we think Ryan gives us that ability to beat tight ends, beat backs and obviously beat tackles.

The Redskins started the night with the 10th pick and were in position to select Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert without having to trade up. With six minutes left on the clock, Jacksonville called the Redskins and offered Nos. 16 and 49 to move up.

Shanahan accepted the offer and the Jaguars picked Gabbert, one of four quarterbacks drafted in the first dozen selections.

We felt we had more needs right now, Shanahan said of passing on a passer. We felt very fortunate. Obviously, Jacksonville wanted a quarterback and it was the perfect scenario for us.

It was the fourth time since 2000 the Redskins moved up or down in the first round and gives them two second round picks on Friday.

Kerrigan said he played outside linebacker a little bit, early in his Boilermaker career but thrived as a defensive end, posting 33.5 sacks, 14 forced fumble and 57 tackles for lost yardage.

Im really excited about the move, he said. I feel I have the ability from the two-point stance with my pass rush skills and athletic ability, I can make that transition to outside linebacker.

The Redskins landed Orakpo two years ago and hes made the Pro Bowl in both his seasons, recording 20 sacks. But when Shanahan switched to a 3-4 scheme, Andre Carters conversion from end to linebacker was a failed experiment and Lorenzo Alexander, while a try-hard player, isnt a pass rushing threat.

Hes one of the top linebackers in the league at his position coming from Texas, I remember watching him and saying, What a beast he was, Kerrigan said.

Kerrigan wasnt too shabby himself as a college player but it was his impressive Scouting Combine work in February that improved his draft stock.

A lot of times, when you take a defensive end who has been in a three-point stance most of his career and have him do linebacker-related drills, it takes him awhile to get going, Shanahan said. But I thought he was very athletic, very agile and we think he can make the conversion fairly quickly.

Kerrigan also paid a pre-draft visit to Redskin Park.

You can see he picks up the game extremely well, Shanahan said. Anytime you talk to a defensive end about the linebacker position, you go through your defensive scheme, adjustments, secondary coverages and a defensive end picks it up very quickly without playing the position, it shows he has some football intelligent.

The trade with Jacksonville gives the Redskins options on Friday. They are still without third- and fourth-round picks.

Anytime you have two picks, you have a lot of flexibility, Shanahan said. Do you move up to get a player or do you move back to get an extra three and a four, or a four and a five depending on how many slots you move back?

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com