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Will Orakpo become a holdout?

Will Orakpo become a holdout?

When will Brian Orakpo see the field?

With less than 24 hours remaining until the first practice the Washington Redskins have yet to sign their top draft pick, Brian Orakpo.

There has been no public negotiating which generally is a good sign. Michael Crabtree, the Texas Tech receiver taken at No. 10 is demanding top-three money, and that's not sitting well with the 49ers management.

But no news isn't necessarily good news. It would indicate that there is a waiting game going on involving the slotting system. Rookie contracts generally are based on slots. Basically, a player get a little more money than the player drafted immediately after him and a bit less than the one take right before him. This "system", such as it is, relies on slots getting filled so that there is a basis for comparison at a given spot.

As of right now, though, there isn't a slot to determine Orakpo's deal; in fact it's not even close. He's in the middle of a gulf. The Texas defensive end/linebacker was taken with the 13th selection of the first round. On the higher side, the closest pick signed is Mark Sanchez, taken fifth overall. In addition to being eight picks away, Sanchez is a quarterback. They get the chicks and make more dough, so his deal is not a good basis for comparison.

On the low side is center Alex Mack, taken at No. 21 by Cleveland. So we're looking at eight slots on that end. Orakpo is the man in the middle.

There is another way of getting this done. Mack got a deal that was 12% higher than that of the player taken 21st in 2008. The Redskins and Orakpo's agents, Ben Dogra andMichael Lartigue of CAA, could look at the contract signed by Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart last year and add 12% to that. The result would be a five-year contract worth about $15.6 million. Start there, build in a few incentives, call it a deal, and get Orakpo out on the practice field.

This would serve the team and the player well but the agents will be hesitant of getting burned. God forbid the 12th pick and/or the 14th pick get deals 13% higher than last year. The reputations of Dorga and Lartigue would suffer (from their point of view, anyway), they would stand to be accused of leaving money on the table, and they believe they will have trouble lining up first-rounders in the future.

So, the waiting game continues. If Orakpo misses Thursday and Friday it won't damage his development to any great extent. But I'll bet you that by Friday, Greg Blache or another defensive coach will be lamenting his absence and saying that each lost day is like missing two days. Sometimes that's just coach speak but in this case, with Orakpo being counted on the man two positions, it's not too far from the truth.

It could be worse. The Washington Redskins could be having trouble getting a sixth-round pick into camp as the San Diego Chargers are. And they hardly are alone, with only five of the 32 first-round picks having inked contracts as of Wednesday morning. Still, it would be good to get the guy they're counting on so much into the fray as soon as possible.

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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. Terrance 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 Haha Clinton-Dox 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 focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.