Utah defensive end Nate Orchard harassed quarterbacks mercilessly as a senior, leading the nation in sacks per game at 1.46, but as an NFL Draft prospect the senior's production is only a piece of the evaluation puzzle.
And for one NFL general manager, the other pieces don't fit well.
"He may go late Friday night (third round) if a 3-4 team approves, but he's more likely to (be drafted) sometime Saturday (Rounds 4-7)," the GM told NFL Media's Albert Breer. "Better production than traits that project to the NFL."
Concerns begin with Orchard's size. Listed at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, he is light for an NFL defensive end. And as a full-time pass rusher for the Utes, NFL scouts can only speculate as to whether he would transition well to a linebacker role that would include other demands. The GM isn't alone in his assessment. Scouting buzz on Orchard this season was "lukewarm," and back in October, an NFC personnel director told "Sources Tell Us" that Orchard is "best suited to play outside linebacker at the next level. He's not a true defensive end."
Orchard recorded 17.5 sacks on the season to win the Ted Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in the college game. But linebacker is a different game altogether. Orchard has accepted an invitation to the Reese's Senior Bowl, to be played Jan. 25. He could get a look at the linebacker position there. Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam got a chance to practice some as a linebacker last year.