"It was a huge honor just to sit there and watch film with Coach Porter, and he was very interested in me," Orchard wrote in a pre-draft diary entry for USA Today. "He loved me as a player and the things I was doing on the field and especially off the field."
The Steelers' defense is without a dynamic edge pass rusher, an asset that has marked the club's best defenses in recent memory. Third-year pro Jarvis Jones has shown no sign of living up to first-round expectations, Jason Worilds has retired, and 36-year-old James Harrison hasn't posted double-digit sacks since 2010.
With 98 career sacks of his own, and just four years removed from the end of his playing career as an outside linebacker, Porter knows exactly what he's looking for in a pass rusher. Orchard's 1.42 sacks per game led the NCAA last year, and his play at the Senior Bowl earned him praise despite questions about whether he is big enough to beat offensive tackles at just 250 pounds.
"I love Nate Orchard and what he did this week," NFL Media Analyst Daniel Jeremiah said from the Senior Bowl. "The question of his size wasn't an issue at all. You saw his ability to get off blocks and get off the ball."
Orchard wrote that he also met with coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert while in Pittsburgh.
If Orchard emerges as one of the top pass rushers to come out of the 2015 draft, it will come at a bargain price compared to where others such as Dante Fowler, Shane Ray and Vic Beasley will be chosen. The Steelers have the No. 22 overall pick in the first round. NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein projects Kentucky pass rusher Bud Dupree to be Pittsburgh's choice. The club also has big draft needs in the secondary, however, and if it commits the No. 22 pick to a defensive back, Orchard could easily be in play for a later pick.