Pro Day buzz: Orakpo lures GM

Ted Thompson was the only general manager in attendance to watch stud Longhorns defensive end Brian Orakpo, who would be a bookend to Aaron Kampman at outside linebacker. Orakpo is a sure first-round pick who would be a major attraction with the No. 9 overall pick. What did Orakpo, Howie Long, Mack Brown and other prospects have to say? We have what you need to know in this exclusive.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson left the posh hotel in Dana Point, Calif., for an important business trip.

Thompson skipped out of the NFL owners meetings a day early and joined area scout Alonzo Highsmith for Texas' pro day on Wednesday. The main attraction was defensive end/linebacker Brian Orakpo, who would be a major consideration for the Packers if he's on the board at No. 9 in next month's draft.

Orakpo rested on his stellar numbers from February's Scouting Combine, where he strained a hamstring while running a 4.70-seconds 40-yard dash. Our spies say he looked smooth while doing outside linebacker drills in front of Thompson and the other scouts.

"It's funny, because I came in as a skinny kid just trying to make a name for myself during spring ball," Orakpo told reporters when asked about being a top-10 pick. "I can't say enough how much hard work and dedication I've put in to get to this point in my life. It's definitely a dream come true."

Orakpo won practically every award last season while starring at defensive end. He ranked sixth in the nation with 11.5 sacks and seventh with 19 tackles for loss. He was a consensus first-team All-America while taking home the Nagurski Trophy (nation's top defensive player), Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman) and Hendricks Award (nation's top defensive end).

Orakpo received the Hendricks Award — named for former Raiders and Packers defensive end Ted Hendricks — on Sunday. Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long was the featured speaker and has gotten to know Orakpo.

"What I learned about him is, on top of being a really good football player as everybody knows — and he has a really bright future in football — he's a remarkable young man," Long said. "Family and his life off the field is important to him. He's a bright, young man who has his head screwed on right."

Texas coach Mack Brown praised Orakpo for his work ethic. After arriving on campus weighing about 210 pounds, he's now a chiseled 263-pound wrecking ball.

"I've never been around a guy who works harder than ‘Rak,'" Brown said. "He never takes a play off in practice or a game, is always in the weight room getting bigger, stronger and faster, studies his film and prepares as well as anyone."

Orakpo, with 22 career sacks, not only is one of the top pass rushers in the draft but also is considered a strong run defender. He'd be a great bookend to Aaron Kampman and an every-down player from Day 1. NFL.com's Gil Brandt, who was the Dallas Cowboys' top personnel man for almost 30 years, was at the pro day and said Thompson was impressed with Orakpo's physical stature.

"Every coach has been very positive," Orakpo said. "They really like what they see. I just have to come out here and prove to them that I'm the real deal. I want to get better when the next level comes about, and as soon as this is all over, I want to get in there, learn the playbook of that team and continue to get better."

Texas' other top prospects are Quan Cosby, Scout.com's 14th-ranked receiver, and Cedric Dockery (6-4, 312), Scout.com's 13th-ranked guard.

The 5-foot-9 Cosby is the oldest player in the draft at 26. He gave up on a minor-league baseball career and wound up catching 212 passes for 2,598 yards and 19 touchdowns, including 92 catches and 10 touchdowns last season. He caught passes in a school-record 44 consecutive games, and he adds juice as a kickoff returner (23.7-yard average) and punt returner (11.3).

An interesting prospect who's not on anyone's list of top running backs is Chris Ogbonnaya. The 6-foot, 220-pound Ogbonnaya has experience as a halfback, fullback and receiver. He carried the ball only 73 times for 373 yards and four touchdowns as a senior but added 46 catches for 540 yards and three scores.

"I had the opportunity to run routes with Quan at wide receiver, and then I had to do a lot of running back drills with quick feet and different things like that," he said. "I just wanted to showcase my quickness and other abilities."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport


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