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Need to Know: What are the Redskins' options with Orakpo in 2015?

Need to Know: What are the Redskins' options with Orakpo in 2015?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 16, eight days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

Yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline for Brian Orakpo to sign a long-term contract with the Redskins came and went without a deal being done. He’ll play this year on a one-year, $11.45 million contract. Let’s fast forward to 2015 and consider how this might play out.

—A lot of how 2015 plays out will depend on what happens the rest of 2014. If Orakpo is healthy and produces, say, 15 sacks and makes some game-changing plays the Redskins will work on a way to keep him, either with a big money, long-term deal or by using the franchise tag again. If he gets 10 low-impact sacks and doesn’t do much in the turnover department they might be inclined to let him walk unless he signs a very team friendly deal. And by “team friendly” I mean something with a cap number in the $7 million to $8 million range that the team with a fairly low amount of guaranteed money.

—The reason the Redskins will base much of their decision on how Orakpo performs this year is that they are giving him everything he needs to be successful. They spent $10 million in guaranteed month to land Jason Hatcher to give him some help with an inside pass rush. They spent their top draft pick on Trent Murphy, who will line up with Orakpo in certain packages and draw some more attention away from him. The team brought in coach Brian Baker to coach his position and refine his pass rush technique. Jim Haslett has promised his scheme will feature more aggressive rush and less containment responsibilities. If he can’t become a top pass rusher under those circumstances at the age of 28 there isn’t much hope that he ever will.

—As noted, the Redskins will have the option of tagging Orakpo again in 2015. The issue with counting on that strategy is that players generally don’t like getting the tag for a second time. This time around, Orakpo signed the tender before the offseason program started. That let him participate on OTAs and obligated him to come to minicamp and training camp. But things might not go quite so smoothly the next time around. Orakpo’s camp might want to play hardball and take the only course of action they can, withhold the player’s services. We’re a long way from that happening but it’s one more thing that both sides have to consider as this situation plays out.

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Timeline

—It’s been 199 days since the Redskins played a game; in 53 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 22; Final cuts 45; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 61

Redskins take wait and see approach with Orakpo.

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrence Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

The Redskins haven't shied away from using draft picks on players with an injury history, and that trend continued all the way to their final pick of the draft with Auburn CB Joshua Holsey.

Holsey missed parts of the 2013 and 2015 seasons at Auburn due to torn ACLs, but rebounded with a strong season in 2016. He had 30 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended in his senior season.

RELATED: REDSKINS ROLL THE DICE ON 7TH ROUND SAFETY

He was overlooked through most of the draft process due to his injury history and was snubbed at the combine. 

The seventh round is a spot to take a flier on a guy who has some traits you like, and this certainly fits the bill with the pick of Joshua Holsey. 

MORE REDSKINS: ANOTHER TALL WR? 3 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ROBERT DAVIS