Orakpo: A Bust Waiting to Happen?

Some "draft experts" question Texas DE/LB Brian Orakpo's NFL potential. You'll probably be able to provide a better assessment than many of them after reading Dave-Te Thomas' thorough and NFL-quality scouting report. The most complete assessment. Period.

Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
University of Texas Longhorns
Houston, Texas
Lamar High School


Orakpo is a product of the Texas Longhorn training program. He came to the university as a lanky basketball player, but is leaving the school as a rock-solid defensive end. Along the way, he worked his way up the depth chart, wresting away the starting left defensive end position as a junior. Despite lost time in each of his last two years due to knee injuries, he filled his mantelpiece this winter, capturing Big Twelve Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. He also claimed the Lombardi Award (best lineman), Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player) and Hendricks Award (best defensive end).

When Orakpo arrived on campus as a freshman, he weighed just 210 pounds. Over the years, he added over 50 pounds of muscle to his frame, yet still maintains a body fat level of just 8%. Teammate and fellow defensive lineman Roy Miller says that Orakpo has transformed from Steve Urkel into Arnold Schwarzenegger over the past five years. One of the strongest members of the team, he was named the nation's top workout warrior by ESPN. In a recent workout exhibition, he bench pressed 515 pounds, with a 600-pound squat and a 380-pound power clean.

At Lamar High School, Orakpo lettered three times in football as a defensive end. He was a two-time first-team All-District selection and helped his team to a 29-8 mark in those three seasons. He also saw action at tight end. In his final season, he was tabbed second-team All-Greater Houston and All-District 18-5A, despite missing one-third of his year with an injury.

Orakpo still managed to register 36 tackles, nine quarterback sacks and twelve stops for losses in 2003, helping the team compile an 11-2 record to reach the state quarterfinals. As a junior, the All-District and All-Greater Houston choice was credited with ten sacks as his team went to the regional finals. He also lettered in basketball during his freshman through junior years.

Orakpo suited up for the first two games of the 2004 season for Texas, but the coaches decided it was best to red-shirt their lanky first-year player. The following season, he appeared in thirteen games, starting the Baylor clash at "quick" defensive end, a position manned by Brian Robison. He posted 19 tackles (11 solos) with a sack, three stops for losses and nine pressures in 2005.

Robison still held on to the "quick" defensive end job in 2006, but eventually shared that spot with Orakpo. An intense off-season weight training program saw the sophomore return to fall drills as a 248-pounder. He started vs. Ohio State and played in reserve the rest of the campaign, but registered 17 tackles (13 solos) to go with five sacks and five pressures.

With both starting ends having departed, Orakpo laid claim to the "quick" end position,

Starting eight of the nine games he appeared in. A right knee sprain vs. Arkansas State sidelined the junior for four contests. He would collect 27 tackles (19 solos) to go with 5.5 sacks and seven pressures, but the best was yet to come.

The consensus All-American reaped numerous other awards and honors during his senior campaign. He ranked sixth in the nation with 11.5 sacks, as Texas paced the NCAA in that category, as the defense averaged 3.62 sacks per game. He delivered 40 tackles (32 solos) with 17.5 stops for losses and 15 pressures in twelve games, sitting out vs. Baylor after spraining his left knee in the third quarter vs. Texas Tech, doing what he does best – chasing down the quarterback.


2008 Best Games: Texas-El Paso, Rice, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Ohio State

2008 Worst Games: Florida Atlantic, Colorado, Missouri

2007 Best Games: Arkansas State (before injury), Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Arizona State

2007 Worst Games: Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State

2006 Best Games: North Texas, Iowa State, Sam Houston State, Texas A&M

2006 Worst Games: Rice, Texas Tech, Iowa



Body Structure

Orakpo is undersized for a defensive end, but has a well-built, muscled-up frame with defined upper body, good chest development, tight waist and hips, very good abdomen definition, good bubble, thick thighs and calves, very low body fat (8%) and room on his frame to add at least another ten pounds without losing any of his quickness.

Athletic Ability

Orakpo has good quickness, but it is his all-out hustle that makes him look mush faster in his backside pursuit. He has good agility and balance on the move and adequate change of direction agility, but shows some hip stiffness when having to move suddenly. He accelerates into the backfield with good urgency and has the strength to jolt a blocker much bigger than him. He is much stronger with his upper body than in his legs and can be pushed back off the snap, as he does not generate a strong base to hold ground firmly, especially when trying to combat double teams…GRADE-7.1

Football Sense

Orakpo is a highly intelligent athlete who reacts in an instant when he sees the play develop. He earned academic honors in college and high school, so he should be very capable of digesting a complicated playbook. He learns football well and is not the type that will be fooled by misdirection or play action. He seems to do a better job of finding the ball when attacking the backfield rather than working down the line of dropping back in pass coverage (gets a few snaps at linebacker every now and then)…GRADE-6.3


Orakpo is well-liked by staff and teammates. He is heavily involved in the university's community affairs and has no known off-field issues. He is a well-spoken individual and an asset off the field for any program…GRADE-6.7


Orakpo shows good urgency to close when he sees the play develop and is known as an all-out hustler, but needs to play with better aggression. He can get lost working through a crowd and while he is a "gamer," his motor runs hot and cold, as there are times where he simply disappears in games (see 2008 Colorado and Missouri contests). Sometimes it looks like he plays the game with more of an offensive temperament…GRADE-6.1

Work Habits

Orakpo is a workout warrior, but despite his impressive weight room figures, it does not always translate to the football field. He has had durability issues and his knees could be a problem down the road. For all that upper body strength, he does get pretty passive with his hands, at times. He just needs to play with better aggression rather than trying to finesse the blocker…GRADE-6.3




When he plays with his hand down, Orakpo generates a good burst off the snap and quick hand usage to get an edge on the offensive tackle's outside shoulder He has good angle concept in the backfield to close on the quarterback in a hurry. He is effective at getting his hands up to deflect the pass or obstruct the QB's view. He does have issues when he stands up at the line, as he will drop his hands and leave his chest exposed for a blocker to lock on and he does not have the lower leg drive to prevent from being pushed back. He is a quick twitch athlete who can burst up field, but must show better consistency using his hands to disengage…GRADE-7.2

Strength at Point

Orakpo has functional lower body strength, but better upper body power. However, it is his quickness that helps him deal with stronger opponents. When he uses his hands well to control, he gets leverage, but he lacks the sand in his pants to prevent double teams from washing him out at the Xs, where he will generally get pushed and struggle to get off blocks (see 2008 Colorado and Missouri games)…GRADE-6.3

Use of Hands

Orakpo runs hot and cold in this area. He uses his hands well to control and get rid of blocks when he keeps his hand down before the snap (gets good explosion on the rise), but when he plays in a stand-up position, he only generates a soft fend-off. When he gets separation, he can penetrate and defeat blocks…GRADE-6.2

Lateral Pursuit/Effort

When Orakpo keeps his pad level down, he moves down the line effectively and can use his hands well to drag the lead blocker down. He just shows inconsistency with his lateral movement (seems stiff in the hips), but compensates some with his hustle. When he gets too tall in his stance, he will reach and lunge, leading to missed tackles…GRADE-6.0

Tackling Ability

Orakpo is good at locating the ball. It is hard to fool him with misdirection or play action and he is efficient at taking out the outside leg of the ball carrier to prevent them from falling forward for extra yardage (gave up just one yards on 38 running plays involved in during 2008). He makes a good effort to have the correct pad level and helmet placement and showed in 2008 that he can strike and jar the ball loose (see 2008 Rice, Arkansas and Oklahoma games)…GRADE-7.0

Run Defense

When Orakpo keeps his hand down, he can fire off the snap and take on the offensive tackle with good leverage, but will get driven off the line when he gets too tall in his stance. He has the feet to disengage vs. lead blockers, but is best when slipping blocks by lineman rather than try to engage them in battle. When he fails to keep his hands active, he exposes too much of his body and will get stuck on blocks…GRADE-7.1

Pass Rush

Orakpo shows good up field speed and bend coming off the corner to beat a lethargic offensive tackle or counter back inside if the lineman overplays him outside. He just lacks an assortment of rush moves, otherwise. He can free up on twists and games, but has to be moving to be effective, as he is no threat to win one-on-one confrontations with bigger, stronger linemen…GRADE-6.5

Closing on the QB

Orakpo shows the burst to accelerate around the corner on the pass rush and close the deal on the quarterback. He shows good tenacity running the horn to get to the passer. He is most effective on stunts and twists and when he stays at a good pad level, he shows the extra surge to finish the deal off…GRADE-7.7


Orakpo has good backfield awareness and won't bite on play action. He does a good job of making plays in front of him, bit looks sluggish moving laterally in pursuit or when having to change direction. He seems to know schemers up front and acts accordingly and gets into good position to take out the short area receiver on the screens. He needs to do a better job of using his hand punch to jolt blockers and has become a bit too reliant on his outside speed move and a smart blocker can have good success pushing him out and around the pocket…GRADE-6.8

Compares To

LEONARD LITTLE-St. Louis…Don't get fooled by all the awards he won in 2008, as Texas did a great job of publicizing him with "padded" statistics (they claimed he recorded 30 pressures in 2008, but the NCAA recognized just 15; his profile reports 62 pressures for his career, but verified totals are 36). Still, he is a quality edge rusher that some teams are looking at as a potential linebacker, but I don't think he has the range to play there. Use him as a rush end, much like the Rams do with Little, and he will get a good piece of the quarterback. Put him in a stand up position and watch him struggle like former Houston Texans bust, Jason Babin.



Orakpo started 21-of-49 games he appeared in at Texas, registering 103 tackles (75 solos) with 23 sacks for minus 187 yards, 34.5 stops for losses totaling 210 yards and 36 quarter-back pressures…Also caused six fumbles, recovered another and deflected six passes…

His 11.5 sacks in 2008 tied Kenneth Sims (1980) and Dewey Turner (1980) for tenth on the school season-record list…His 23.0 sacks also rank tenth on the Longhorns' career-record chart.


Earned All-American first-team honors from the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation…Recipient of the Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player), Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman) and Hendricks Award (nation's top defensive end)…Finalist for the Lott Trophy (defensive IMPACT player of the year) and named Big Twelve Conference Defensive Player of the Year...Unanimous first-team All-Big Twelve selection…Appeared in twelve games, starting eleven contests at the "quick" defensive end position…Missed the second half of the Texas Tech game and the Baylor contest due to a knee injury and was also was limited at Kansas as a result of that injury... Still managed to record 40 tackles (32 solos), as he ranked second in the league and sixth in the nation with 11.5 sacks for minus 100 yards, the tenth-best season sack total by a Longhorn…Ranked second in the Big Twelve and 14th nationally with 17.5 stops for losses totaling 112 yards…Registered 15 QB pressures and caused four fumbles…Also deflected two passes…Had a very impressive performance in the trenches…On 38 running plays that he made tackles on, the opposition netted just one yard, a miniscule 0.026 yards per carry…Had a hand on 20 pass plays, resulting in his opponents gaining just 56 yards on four receptions, an average of only 2.8 yards per pass attempt…Made fourteen of his stops on third-down snaps and three more on fourth-down…Nine of his tackles came inside the red zone, including three on goal-line snaps…Was named Lott Trophy IMPACT Player of the Week vs. Arkansas and Oklahoma.


Florida Atlantic…Orakpo opened the season with three tackles, as he lined up at "quick" end, but also saw a little time at linebacker as he dropped into coverage…Orakpo spoke of his linebacker experience, "It's kind of fun out there, playing some linebacker. It was good. I can cover. I'm an athlete. I can play some defensive back. I mess with [Ryan] Palmer and all the guys, trying to do my back pedal thing all the time in practice. But I was out there covering a little bit."…Orakpo was all business after the game, "By now, we'll just have to get over this win and prepare for the next game. We'll have some fun with this win and we'll start getting to the next game plan later on."…Head to Head Competition-OT#71-John Rizzo (6:03-300).

Texas-El Paso…Orakpo delivered three of the team's nineteen pressures during the game, as he collected five tackles (3 solos) and had a pair in a pair of sacks…In the third quarter, he sacked QB Trevor Vittatoe on third-&-4 for a 7-yard loss, forcing UTEP to punt…In the fourth quarter, he again got to Vittatoe on third-&-12 for a 10-yard sack…Head to Head Competition-OT#64-Colby Meek (6:04-305).

Rice…Orakpo recorded two sacks, moving his season total to four and his career total to 14.5 as the Longhorns dominated Rice 52-10…His two sacks came on third and fourth downs, as he also forced a fumble, deflected two passes and contributed in an amazing goal-line stand…After facing a first and goal at the two yard-line, the Longhorns held on a determined goal-line stand that featured 11 snaps (10 of which came from inside the five-yard line), eight plays and covered just one yard. It ended when Orakpo's pressure forced a Rice failed fourth down pass attempt with 2:45 remaining in the second quarter…Orakpo commented on Rice having 11 plays inside the five-yard line and not scoring: "I've never seen anything like that before. That was just unbelievable. I mean our guys were just fighting. We had two penalties that hurt us, but we just kept fighting and we handled that adversity. Our guys were just playing with great passion…He also commented on the defensive's seven sacks. "It was a tremendous job by our guys. It was just from the steady grinding and getting after the quarterback. Obviously, we didn't get back there in the first half, but we were putting pressure in his face and we had our hands up. In the second half, we just let it loose. Guys were really hustling to the quarterback, getting in his face and we made some stuff happen. We were just getting there one after another, and it was just a great team effort."…Head to Head Competition-OT#64-Tyler Parish (6:04-300).

Arkansas…Orakpo earned Lott Trophy IMPACT Player of the Week honors after posting four solo tackles with two sacks for minus 29 yards and two pressures, as he also caused a fumble and broke up a pair of passes…He commented on the defense's performance after the game, bestowing praise on his teammates. On why the defensive line was so dominant today: "It was our secondary. Our guys were holding guys up and we were stopping the run early. I mean these guys have been playing tremendously back there and stopping their guys, and giving us a chance to put pressure on them. If we're good enough, we're going to get the sack. I can't say so much though. Roy [Miller] and the guys in the middle pushing the pocket make our job a whole lot easier. I mean, I can only do so much. But, with those guys pushing the pocket, they make the QB start scrambling and it creates big plays for us. The secondary is the main key for us."…On getting pressure on the quarterback: "You just have to stop the run and we did an excellent job. You don't know how many walkthroughs we've had to try to figure out these plays. With so much work that we put in during the off-season and two a- days, I think it's finally paying off for us. Guys are also fitting in their gaps. Guys are playing very physical up front and they are finishing their plays."…Head to Head Competition-OT#78-Jose Valdez (6:05-313).

Oklahoma…The rush end was again named Lott Trophy IMPACT Player of the Week, as he made two sacks, three stops behind the line of scrimmage and caused a fumble while posting four tackles (2 solos)…Sam Bradford went down in a clump as Orakpo sacked him for a 9-yard loss early in the second quarter…He caused a fumble after sacking the QB again for a 6-yard loss in the third stanza, but the Sooners recovered the loose ball…The Longhorn defense limited the Sooners to 48 yards rushing, which meant Bradford had to come through more than ever. He was still good (28-of-39 for 387 yards and five touch-downs), just not good enough to also overcome some breakdowns on defense and special teams…Orakpo spoke on being able to pressure OU quarterback Sam Bradford: "As far as blitzing and things go, give credit to their offensive line. Those guys are big. We have a good defensive front and Coach Muschamp felt that we could bring some pressure with just rushing four guys. That was the philosophy and game plan coming in — don't rush more if we don't need to, because they have great wide receivers and tight ends that make plays. We tried to do that all game, and we were somewhat successful with it."..Head to Head Competition-OT#79-Phil Loadholt (6:08-337).

Oklahoma State…Orakpo continued to terrorize opposing quarterbacks, delivering six solo tackles with a sack, two stops behind the line of scrimmage and a pressure…He made up for slipping on a 23-yard touchdown run by OSU's Kendall Hunter in the second quarter by sacking Zac Robinson at the OSU 21 midway through the third quarter…Head to Head Competition-OT#76-Russell Okung (6:05-300).

Texas Tech…Orakpo was forced to leave the game in the third quarter with a left knee sprain…An MRI revealed no damage, but he was forced to sit out the following week vs. Baylor and saw limited snaps vs. Kansas upon his return to the field as a reserve.

Texas A&M…Back in the starting lineup, Orakpo registered four pressures, two stops for losses of 12 yards, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and five tackles (3 solos)…He stripped the ball from Ryan Tannehill on a fourth quarter 8-yard sack and Texas recovered it to set up a 23-yard touchdown run by Longhorns tailback Cody Johnson…On the next series, he again sacked Tannehill for minus 7 yards on third-&-10, forcing the Aggies to punt… Orakpo spoke of the win and the victory lap after the game: "It was something I'm never going to forget, playing in a huge and great stadium. It's been good to me over the years. I'm surely going to miss it. The only time I'll be back in this stadium is watching these guys. It was a great lap for the seniors, especially going on a good note with a good team like [Texas] A&M. To go out there and play a complete game felt really good."…Head to Head Competition-OT#74-Jeff Spikes (6:06-314).

Ohio State (Fiesta Bowl)…Orakpo notched another sack to give him 11.5 for 2008 and 23 for his career, dropping Todd Boeckman for a 10-yard loss with 0:11 left in the game to preserve a 24-21 win…Talking about his closing game sack, Orakpo stated, "It was a dream come true. When you are a kid, you dream of making big plays towards the fourth quarter. That's what you lean on. Quan made a great catch. Colt made a great throw. They put us in the position to win the game. We had to finish the deal. Me, Roy and the rest of the gang had some adversity. We had to hang in there, make some huge plays, and my hat is off to the team. I love this team. We worked so hard and so many doubts coming into the season. Man, it is a story you can write in a book about this 2008 University of Texas team."…Head to Head Competition-OT#75-Alex Boone (6:08-312).


Orakpo appeared in nine games, starting eight contests…Missed the Texas Christian, Central Florida, Rice and Kansas State games after suffering a right knee sprain vs. Arkansas State…Named Defensive MVP in the Holiday Bowl...Earned one of UT's Frank Medina Rehabilitation Awards and was named one of the Longhorns' Outstanding Defensive Ends…Finished with 27 tackles (19 solos), 5.5 sacks for minus 49 yards, eight stops for losses of 53 yards and seven quarterback pressures…Deflected two passes and caused a fumble…Helped Texas allow just 93.4 rushing yards per game, ranking sixth nationally.


Assisted on a sack for a 4-yard loss vs. Arkansas State in the season opener before his knee sprain would sideline him for the next four games…Upon his return, he made up for lost time, posting three solo tackles that included two stops behind the line of scrimmage and a 10-yard sack of QB Sam Bradford vs. Oklahoma…Took down QB Joe Ganze for an 11-yard sack and was in on four hits vs. Nebraska…Posted three tackles with a trio of pressures and sacked QB Graham Harrell for minus 7 yards in a 59-43 victory over Texas Tech…Named Defensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl after producing six tackles (4 solos) and sacking QB Rudy Carpenter twice for losses of 17 yards in a 52-34 triumph over Aerizona State.


Played in thirteen games, sharing quick defensive end duties with Brian Robison…Made 17 tackles (13 solos) with five sacks for minus 31 yards and six stops for losses totaling 35 yards…Credited with five quarterback pressures and deflected two passes…Part of a defense that ranked third in the nation, allowing just 61.2 yards per game on the ground, the second-lowest average by a Texas team in school history.


Opened the season with three tackles, including two sacks and a pressure vs. North Texas and followed with two pressures vs. Ohio State, the only game he started in 2006…Added two tackles, including a sack, and a pressure vs. Iowa State...Posted four hits, including one behind the line of scrimmage vs. Sam Houston State...Delivered three tackles and a pressure vs. Oklahoma...Notched a sack, a pass deflection and a pressure in the Nebraska clash…Had one stop vs. Iowa in the Alamo Bowl.


Named Defensive Freshman of the Year and first-team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News...Earned Big Twelve Conference Defensive Freshman of the Year from the league's coaches and The Sporting News...Also garnered All-Big Twelve honorable mention (all classes)…Was a key member of a defense that ranked tenth nationally in total defense (302.9 ypg), eighth in scoring defense (16.4 ppg), eighth in passing defense (172.0 ypg) and 33rd in rushing defense (130.9 ypg)...Recorded 19 tackles (11 solos) with a 7-yard sack, three stops for losses of 10 yards and nine quarterback pressures…Also caused and recovered a fumble while seeing action in thirteen games at "quick" defensive end, starting vs. Baylor.


Suited up for the first two games vs. North Texas and Arkansas before being red-shirted.


2007-Suffered a right knee sprain in the season opener vs. Arkansas State (9/01), missing the next four contests vs. Texas-El Paso, Rice, Arkansas and Colorado.

2008-Left the Texas Tech game (11/01) in the third quarter with a left knee sprain, sitting out the next game vs. Baylor and only appeared for a handful of plays vs. Kansas (11/15).

2009-Could not complete the agility tests at the NFL Combine due to a hamstring strain.


4.63 in the 40-yard dash…1.58 10-yard dash…2.66 20-yard dash…39.5-inch vertical jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times…515-pound bench press…600-pound squat…380-pound power clean.


Attended Lamar (Houston, Tex.) High School, playing football for head coach Tom Nolan… Lettered three times in football as a defensive end…Two-time first-team All-District choice and helped his team to a 29-8 mark in those three seasons…Also saw action at tight end… In his final season, he was tabbed second-team All-Greater Houston and All-District 18-5A, despite missing one-third of his year with an injury…Still managed to register 36 tackles, nine quarterback sacks and twelve stops for losses in 2003, helping the team compile an 11-2 record to reach the state quarterfinals…As a junior, the All-District and All-Greater Houston choice was credited with ten sacks as his team went to the regional finals…Also lettered in basketball during his freshman through junior years…Honor Roll student, graduating with a 3.0 grade point average.


Graduated with a degree in Youth and Community Studies...Member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll (Spring 2008)…Active in UT's community service program, as he participated in the Teen Summit program, promoting voting as part of the youth council...

Uncle, Chike, played football at Iowa…Born Brian Ndubisi Orakpo on 7/31/86 in Houston, Texas.

























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