Orchard hopes to hit the ground running

New Browns linebacker is getting early opportunities in multiple formations

Orchard hopes to hit the ground running

By Fred Greetham

OBR Senior Reporter

BEREA, Ohio—Nate Orchard knew what the opportunity was ahead of him before his final season at Utah. He had just 3.5 sacks as a pass rusher in 2013 and knew that wasn’t going to cut it.

Orchard exploded for 18.5 sacks in 2014 and led the nation with an average of 1.46 per game. In addition to the sack totals, Orchard had 21.5 tackles for loss at Utah.

“It was just a different mentality,” Orchard said during a break at the NFL’s rookie symposium in Berea. “I have a family to support and (I asked myself) ‘Where did I want my future to be?’ and I knew the NFL was a great opportunity for me.

“The 18.5 sacks allowed me to have the opportunity,” he said. “Everything in this game is mental and I had a great mentality with my wife and family right there.”

The Browns used their second-round pick (51st overall) to replace Jabaal Sheard and to go along with Paul Kruger and push Barkevious Mingo. Kruger led the Browns last season with 11 sacks, but Mingo had just two in 2014.

Orchard (6–4, 255) was named to 10 different All-America teams in college and feels after the rookie minicamp and OTA’s he’s ready for training camp.

“(The off-season) went really well beginning with rookie minicamp,” Orchard said. “There was a rough transition to a new environment, new community but the biggest thing was the playbook. Coach (Jim) O’Neil , coach (Brian) Fleury, Mingo, Paul Kruger and had a smooth transition.”

Orchard feels learning the defensive schemes have been the biggest difference to date for him.

“Definitely, the biggest thing is the playbook and think I have a good grasp of that and can continue to play fast and continue to play football and hit the ground running.”

Orchard said during the most recent minicamp he was filling in for Mingo on the strong side, but said he’s been used in multiple different formations.

Orchard said he knows there will still be a learning curve as the preseason and regular season begin. When asked what is the biggest difference between the college game and the NFL thus far.

“Everything,” he said. “The speed, the strength the game is totally different. Guys have been doing this for years and years and I just have to be on top of my game.”

Orchard said he has enjoyed the rookie symposium working with the kids.

“I feel like a kid all over again being out with these young ones,” he said. “Growing up I didn’t have this opportunity and now I have an opportunity to give back to the community.

“We sincerely care about these kids, this is the future,” he said. “To give back to the kids, I would rather be no where else.”

Orchard said the financial seminars have been eye opening for him after signing a four-year $4.466 million contract, including a $1.5 million signing bonus.

“It’s a scary thing because were all 21 or 22 and we have lots of money and we all have friends and family pulling on us for financial means,” he said. “Especially me being married and having a little girl have to budget and be smart.”

Orchard has not been too extravagant in his spending habits when asked what’s the biggest thing he’s spent his money on since signing his first NFL contract.

“The biggest purchase is probably the flight homes back and forth because those flights are expensive.”

The OBR Top Stories