Cleveland Browns: 6 second-year players to watch in 2016
By Joel W. Cade
There is not enough positive that can be said about Nate Orchard. He came on strong toward the end of last season, solidified the run defense on the edge and eventually became a force in the pass rush. By the end of the season, given Paul Kruger’s clear frustration with his usage, Orchard was the most consistent outside linebacker on the team.
Orchard fits the mold of what Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta and Hue Jackson are looking for in players. He won the Hendricks’ award for the best defensive end in college football his senior year at Utah after recording 18.5 sacks.
Like a lot of incoming rookies, Orchard had to overcome a lot of adversity in his life. Born Napa’a Lilo Fakahafua in Los Angeles, he moved to Utah as the age of 10. After two years his mother could no longer support him. At that time his AAU basketball coach took him in and raised him. At age 17, he learned from his biological mother that the man he thought was his father was not actually his father. Just before getting married, he changed his name to Nathaniel Fakahafua Orchard to honor the Orchard family that raised him.
Orchard overcame adversity on the field as well. Early last season he struggled against the run and pass. He looked completely lost. However as the season went on, he progressed as fans hope rookies do over the year.
He learned to set the edge and take on pulling linemen. He also recorded three sacks in the final four games of the season, confidently and effectively holding down the strong outside linebacker position.
This fall he should contribute at the outside linebacker position. If he continues to progress from last season, he could easily start opposite Kruger as the strong side outside linebacker.
Next: Players in Position Battles