AnalysisOrchard played in 50 games, starting three dozen times. He posted impressive numbers, finishing with 186 tackles, 25 sacks, and 39.5 tackles for a loss. He also caused eight fumbles. This past season he led the nation in sacks with 18.5 This is the same three-star prospect that showed up on Utah’s campus as a 190-pound recruit. Orchard plays fast and hard on every single down, always giving great effort. Now 6-foot-3, 250-pounds, he’s being looked at as a defensive end in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4. He can rush with speed, power or an array of moves or techniques.
Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation
Instant Analysis from Scout's Jamie Newberg:
The Browns drafted a football player here that just does his job in Nate Orchard. Scheme wise he’s an ideal fit. Orchard played in 50 games, starting three dozen times. He posted impressive numbers, finishing with 186 tackles, 25 sacks, and 39.5 tackles for a loss. He also caused eight fumbles. This past season he led the nation in sacks with 18.5 This is the same three-star prospect that showed up on Utah’s campus as a 190-pound recruit. Orchard plays fast and hard on every single down, always giving great effort. Now 6-foot-3, 250-pounds, he can rush with speed, power or an array of moves or techniques.
Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:
Even after a magical 2014 season that saw Nate Orchard lead the nation in sacks (18.5) and finish fourth with 21.0 stops-for-loss, scouts were still taking a “wait and see” approach to fully analyze his pass rush skills at the 2015 Senior Bowl. He also tallied 84 tackles this season, second-best on the team, causing three fumbles, as he won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end who also demonstrates leadership and community contributions, along with receiving All-American first-team honors.
Orchard recently changed his last name from Fakahafua, but by either name, whether at linebacker, defensive end or on special teams, the Utes senior has excelled, delivering 17.0 of his 97 tackles for losses combined as a sophomore and junior. He joined Utah as a 190-pound recruit, but will line up as a 255-pound left end in 2014.
While he still lacks ideal 4-3 scheme defensive line size, Orchard shows the range and pursuit quickness to chase down ball carriers turning the corner, demonstrating good balance and body control working through trash. He has the strength and good use of hands to get a push off the bigger linemen in attempts to slip through blocks, as he generates a quick arm-over move to escape.
The Utah right defensive end can be sudden in his burst to gain advantage, consistently beating his man with his explosive initial step and change of direction agility to get wide and make plays along the perimeter. He is also very effective using club moves when combating combo blocks.
Orchard might be the most explosive pass rusher that Utah has developed in ages. He has that sudden burst of quickness heading up field and combines active hand usage with hip flip, pop and rip moves in his attempt to bend the corner. He might give up bulk, but with his upper body strength, he’s had good success in pressing the inside shoulder of an offensive tackle.
The Utah defender also possesses the flexibility and leverage to simply burst in the backfield and close on the pocket. He has that “bag of tricks” that he uses to counter inside, along with an explosive spin move to pressure the quarterback. As a pass rusher, he can beat you with either his speed or power.
Orchard has very good body control and excellent hip snap. The think I like is the way he can squeeze through the tiniest of creases to get into the backfield. He uses his arm-over moves with very good quickness and rips well. He keeps himself lean to gain leverage and he excels at pressuring the quarterback. He can turn the corner and shows good counter moves to come underneath and make the play. His lower body strength lets him push the pocket and he displays very good urgency to get to the quarterback.
One thing that you immediately notice is Orchard’s very quick feet and good lateral agility. He does have a quick first step but he's not elite in that regard, if he is to shift to line-backer at the next level, as he displays adequate fluidity in limited views dropping in underneath coverage.
Still, playing in a three-point stance, Orchard is much stronger than he appears. Offensive tackles struggle in attempts to engulf him, as he keeps his hands too active to let the opponent get into his body. They only reach that success when he comes out of his stance too high. However, he has a powerful upper body and flashes the ability to anchor when he stays low.
Orchard is strong enough to hold ground vs. tight ends and fullbacks if he is to be used in the “elephant” package. He is not the type that gets reckless or over-pursues. He appears to be disciplined and executes his assignments well. He diagnoses plays with adequate quickness. He finds the ball quickly vs. the run, as his snap anticipation improved greatly in 2014 (just two off-side penalties last year compared to six in 2013).
As a pass rusher, Orchard has better closing speed than an initial burst, but he closes quickly and is an explosive tackler. He has a great motor and is a relentless pass rusher. He flashes some spin and redirection moves, but despite setting sack records in 2014, he still has room to improve in terms of his overall array.
Orchard lacks ideal bulk to be an every-down type of defensive end in a 4-3 alignment, as there are times when he will come out of his stance too high and if he is to remain on the front wall, he must learn to play with more consistent leverage. He does, however, show great discipline with his keys and assignment execution vs. the run and very active hands to shed.
Orchard has a good closing burst when pursuing from the backside and possesses the initial pop and overall power that team’s expect from a steady tackler. He does a better job of wrapping up in space than expected and will purse hard and makes a lot of plays on effort.
Nate Orchard Scouting Combine measurables
6-3/250 (4.8 forty)
33 3/4-inch arm length
10 1/8-inch hands
31.5-inch vertical jump
115-inch broad jump
7.28 3 cone drill
4.43 20 yard shuttle
12.06 60 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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