2015 NFL Draft Scouting Report – Nate Orchard, DE Utah


Utah’s Nate Orchard has been a breakout star as a pass rusher in his senior season, putting up one of the highest sack totals in college football.  The former high school wide receiver contributed as a 220lb freshman and has worked to put on about 35lbs over the following three years as he has become a full time player on that side of the ball while still displaying the athleticism that would have allowed him to succeed on offense.

In the Utes defensive scheme, Orchard obviously plays as a defensive end, but he also plays a leo backer and outside linebacker in certain looks, so he can play on his feet.  He can be dropped into coverage but that is not something he has done a great deal of and is mostly coming downhill as the team’s primary pass rushing threat.

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Vitals & Build

  • Born January 5th, 1993 (Will be 22 at the time of the NFL Draft)
  • 6’4″ 255lbs (Listed)

Orchard has a long, lean frame that makes him look much lighter than his 255lb listed weight, which seems like wishful thinking.  He has excellent feet and body control as well as agility.  Orchard shows a good amount of speed and explosiveness for the position.  He plays with a high motor and brings a ton of effort consistently through his play.  He needs to continue to get stronger but appears to have significant room on his frame to do so, so he may have a good amount of physical potential as he heads to the next level.

Snap Anticipation & First Step

Orchard does a good job of anticipating and reacting to the snap.  He is consistent and can give opponents issues with his quickness off of the ball.

His first step is wildly inconsistent.  Whether he is on his feet or in a four point stance, it is difficult to predict how effective he will be play to play.  Too often, he fires upward and stands up almost immediately despite how low he can start.  Then, at times, he will do a great job and go forward behind his pads and can really put opponents at a disadvantage.  This needs to become more commonplace to maximize his speed and quickness, especially as a pass rusher.

  • Despite bending low enough to where he  in a downward dog style four point stance, he stands almost straight up with his first movement.

Block Shedding

Orchard has excellent hand use that allows him to disengage from blockers.  He never seems to stop working to keep opponents off balance and while he tends to operate with speed and quickness to get around opponents, Orchard can show some power to beat opponents.  He is creative enough to beat opponents in a few different ways and does a nice job of mixing things up to keep blockers honest.  More power will only make him more effective but Orchard’s hands might be the best attribute he brings to the table.

Run Stopping

Orchard is a pretty poor run defender.  While not for lack of effort, some technical deficiencies make it difficult for him to succeed at the collegiate level and if not addressed, will be even more problematic in the pros.  The key for Orchard’s success is being able to play behind his pads and play low.  Far too often, Orchard stands up and short circuits his power and has a narrow base that he is easily overpowered.

Orchard has shown that he can do it right, flashes the ability to stack and shed, making plays in the process.  And when opponents run at him because they feel he is a weakness as a run defender and he makes the proper adjustment, he can make a big play.

  • Orchard stacks the left tackle here while only giving up a little ground, does a great job of throwing him aside and making the tackle.

The problem for Orchard is when he is wrong, he can be very wrong.

  • Orchard stands up, gets a narrow based as he slides inside and gets knocked backward and down the field.  If he could have stayed lower as he was moving inside, he might have been right in the ball carrier’s path.

From a positional standpoint, Orchard knows where he needs to go and gets in position for the most part.  He stays at home and slides inside with his shoulders square to the line to be able to react to read type plays or cut backs.  Orchard is a little more inconsistent when it comes to attacking downhill with his angle and can give the offensive tackle an easier way to seal him from the play when they run back in his direction.

At this point, Orchard is best suited to be a positional pass rusher.  However, his motor, work ethic and will to play the run, even if the results are not good at this point, give reason to believe that with continued physical development and doing a better job with his technique and playing lower, he could develop into a worthwhile run defender.

Pass Rushing

Orchard has developed into an effective pass rusher this season.  His game is predicated on speed, but he is smart with how he is able to utilize it.  He has the body control to redirect and react to what the opponent while showing good burst out of his cuts.  Orchard is able to use an outside speed rush, but he seems to use it more as a setup than his go to move.

  • Orchard uses an outside speed rush to get the sack.

Orchard seems to prefer to get an opponent to think he is going to attack outside and then cut underneath him, doing a nice job of getting skinny and having a straight line to the quarterback.

  • Orchard makes the quick outside sell before sticking his foot in the ground to redirect inside and get the sack.

Orchard has also flashed the ability to show his outside speed rush before converting speed to power, catching an opponent off guard and driving them backward before using his hands to beat them and get the pressure.  If he can become a more natural bender, this could be a bigger part of his game going forward.

Orchard also brings terrific effort and will give second and third efforts as a pass rusher.  He also has good closing speed and does not waste many opportunities when he has the quarterback in his sights.

  • Orchard displays relentless effort here, managing to beat a pair of running backs and it pays off when Brett Hundley goes down.

The other good habit that Orchard has developed is knowing when he is not going to get to the quarterback and not only getting his hands up but jumping to try to knock down passes.  He has shown good timing and has been able to not only deflect some passes but can take away passing lanes, making it far more difficult for the quarterback to operate.

Orchard has come up with a huge season this year as a pass rusher in terms of production, but he has a lot of qualities that could allow him to continue that trend as he goes into the pros.  Continued physical development will be important, but his effort level as well as his hands and speed should enable him to be successful as a pro.


Orchard has the tools to be effective in coverage.  His feet are good and he has the hips and athleticism to help in different types of coverage but he has not been asked to do a ton of it.  The reason is his benefit as a pass rusher was simply too valuable to give up in passing situations.  When he has dropped into coverage, it has mostly been in the form of a short zone.  With work, he should be able to develop in this area.

System Fit

Orchard could help teams as a defensive end in a 4-3, outside linebacker in a 3-4 or leo backer, but his role will be what matters.  Right now, he looks like a pass rusher that can come in and bring energy and speed to get after opposing passers.  Additionally, his size and speed could enable him to help teams on coverage units in special teams.  As he is able to get stronger and improve his technique, he could potentially work his way into a more regular role.  From that standpoint, his best fit may be as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Draft Projection

Orchard is a solid Day Three Value that could make an early impact in his NFL career as a pass rusher and special teamer.  He has the potential down the road to develop into a more complete player than he was at Utah.

The clips were provided by DraftBreakdown.com