Atlanta Falcons Draft Spotlight: DE Nate Orchard


With the great need to gain more and more pass rushers, it is very possible that the Atlanta Falcons will double dip in the draft and come away with at least two rushers.

Here is a quote that columnist Jeanna Thomas of The Falcoholic recently provided through her article looking at coach Dan Quinn’s insight on what he looks for in a pass rusher:

“But really, speed and length and that effort to keep relentlessly going – that’s what makes the really good pass rushers the great ones – those hands, that effort, that mindset,” Quinn said.

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Today we will highlight who the Falcons may target as that second pass rusher who has great potential.

Nate Orchard Draft Profile

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 252 pounds


Despite being in the 250 pound ballpark, Orchard provides really good strength. One of the first, if not the first, out of his stance at the snap of the ball.

He was tied for the lead in FBS in sacks last season with 18.5 and led the nation with quarterback knockdowns with 28, which shows constant effort and results because of it.

He has good footwork to go along with quality pass-rushing moves, which coincides with his quick first step. In addition, Orchard has pursuit skills for those QBs who like to move outside the pocket.

Orchard is a player with a good character which is always a plus for GM Thomas Dimitroff and owner Arthur Blank.

Take a look for yourself at the potential of Orchard:


Those strengths that Orchard possess comes with weaknesses. Against the run, Orchard may not be much of a factor as he can get latched on by a blocker and he may have a hard time of shedding blocks.

Orchard doesn’t have the height that many coaches would want and his weight doesn’t make him a three down edge guy.

He needs to learn to develop a more defined arsenal of pass rushing moves.


Orchard arrived at the University of Utah as a wide receiver. He hasn’t played the position long enough to be polished so he may just be scratching the surface as far as his ceiling.

For a player who hasn’t played the position long, you have to be somewhat impressed with his 18.5 sacks he posted last season. Getting Orchard in an NFL weight room, with a solid, disciplined defensive line coach and defensive coordinator could do wonders for Orchard. He’s not the No. 1 rusher type at this moment and he may never be.

However, Orchard can be a key piece to a rotation which is exactly what Quinn is trying to build in Atlanta. Patience is needed for Orchard; that patience has great untapped potential that would give him an opportunity to bloom as an effective quarterback chaser.

Next: What should the Falcons do in the second round?

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