When you’re a second round pick in the NFL draft, you’re expected to be, at worst, a solid contributor for the team that invested in you. And as a first team All-PAC-12 selection and the winner of the 2014 Ted Hendricks Award (given to the best defensive end in the country), you could say expectations were high for Nate Orchard.
Orchard, a 6’3”, 256 pound defensive end/linebacker out of Utah, did have a good start to his career, recording three sacks while playing in 15 games with 11 starts for the Cleveland Browns in his rookie season. An injury-shortened 2016 season appears to have been his downfall, as he never regained his starting spot, and was released prior to the 2018 season.
After being released by the Browns, Orchard spent a month each last season with two teams (Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs), filling in for injured starters. After the season he was signed by the Seattle Seahawks just prior to the NFL, only to be cut weeks later when the team drafted two players at his position. He was out of work when the Miami Dolphins came calling, a team in dire need of help along the defensive line.
“The places I’ve been, it’s always come down to a numbers situation,” says Orchard. “But you can’t let those situations and things like that deter you from what you do. My confidence is high. I’m grateful each day for the opportunities - Buffalo, KC, Cleveland, here. Just to be in this league is a huge opportunity.”
“I’ve learned a lot,” he continued. “I’ve been through peaks and valleys, ups and downs. I learned at the end of the day that you’ve got to be confident in your craft and be a professional. You’ve got to show up each day and put your best foot forward.”
While the Dolphins are light-lipped about details of their defensive schemes, Orchard has already noticed something from the short time he’s had to digest the Dolphins playbook - that head coach Brian Flores is bringing some of the flavor from his previous job in New England to South Florida.
“They put guys in position here to be successful,” says Orchard of Flores and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s schemes. “Blitzes coming from every angle, you don’t know who’s coming, what’s going on. The coaches do a great job. Coach Graham is doing a great job of disguising that.”
Orchard has no shortage of confidence in his abilities, and has kept a great attitude throughout the last year while bouncing around to four different teams.
“It’s the nature of the business,” he says. “The NFL, it’s a tough league and everywhere I’ve been, it’s a business decision. But at the end of the day, the ego is great. My confidence is still sky high. I’ve got a great support system, my wife and kids and family. They keep me going.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to be confident in what you do and don’t ever let anybody drag you down.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
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