News came out late Friday that expected-starter Jarvis Jenkins would be serving a four-game suspension for PED usage, according to NFL.com.
While the Washington Redskins defensive end denies these reports, saying he didn’t take any banned substances, Washington is still faced with a dilemma.
Jenkins was a replacement already, as he was filling in for starting DE Adam Carriker, who will be missing four to five months after having surgery on his quadriceps. Washington’s pass rush is certainly something they can’t afford to lack and they will have to have a replacement for Jenkins.
The obvious options are DT/DE Chris Baker and DE Dominique Hamilton, but neither really gives the coaching staff much confidence. Although Baker has been practicing at DE, he still isn’t a great replacement. Hamilton is still inexperienced and could very well be a liability on their defensive front.
A wise, although probably unpopular choice would be to move OLB Brian Orakpo to his former position of defensive end. He dominated at the position in college and could be a great option for the first four games in Jenkins' absence.
He wouldn’t even have to play the position full-time; with Phillip Merling and Hamilton down the depth chart, he would probably only play first and/or second downs, then move to his more accustomed position of outside linebacker.
I realize this is probably a pretty unpopular opinion, but it would make sense for the first month of the season. Remember this: Rob Jackson played pretty well in place of Orakpo last year for 14 games and the playoffs.
More than that, Washington brought in veteran defensive end Darryl Tapp, who will be a solid rotational rush-linebacker. The Redskins also drafted fierce pass-rusher Brandon Jenkins in this past April’s draft, someone who could make a big impact sooner than later.
The reason why Jenkins slipped so drastically down so many teams’ draft boards is because he was injured in his senior year and missed every game. If it weren’t for that, the Florida State product would’ve most likely been a first or second rounder.
While unorthodox, moving Orakpo back to defensive end could pay dividends in Jenkins’ absence. Between Jackson, Tapp and Jenkins, the Redskins can cover the rush-linebacker position for a few weeks until Jenkins’ suspension is over.
Orakpo can surely be effective as a defensive lineman and the depth behind him at the position make it an even more plausible option for Washington.