NFL Draft 2015: Nate Orchard Is Better Than Randy Gregory


The New York Giants have the 40th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, as we prepare for the second and third rounds today. Two players the Giants could target to fill their pass rushing needs are Randy Gregory and Nate Orchard. If it comes between these two players who should the Giants select?

Randy Gregory has been touted as one of the draft’s best pass rushing talents, and to the shock of many he has fallen to the second round. His fall from a potential top ten spot is more about his weaknesses as a football player than his failed drug test at the NFL Combine.

Dec 27, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive end Randy Gregory (4) stretches before the game against the USC Trojans in the 2014 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

While the arrest clearly hurt Gregory’s stock, teams are willing to take a chance on top talent. For example the Kansas City Chiefs selected the troubled Marcus Peters with the 18th overall pick. The Denver Broncos traded up with the Detroit Lions to select Shane Ray, who was arrested days before the draft for possession of marijuana.

The secret about Gregory is he isn’t that good of a football player, he is just a tremendous athlete. Gregory doesn’t fire off the ball, in fact he is often late out his stance. This gives the offensive tackle a head start. Gregory also struggles with run defense and overall technique. If I was an offensive coordinator I would constantly run the football to Gregory’s side, testing his discipline and strength.

While Randy Gregory’s numbers are impressive (17.5 sacks in two seasons) in the NFL, it is technique that gets you to the quarterback. Being 6-6 with great acceleration is enough with the Nebraska Cornhuskers but try getting around Tyron Smith of the Dallas Cowboys like that, and you will fail.

Gregory has tremendous potential and he shows flashes of absolute greatness. The truth remains however that he is available in the second round for a reason. Gregory has elite upside but he isn’t going to be an elite player right away.

Nate Orchard on the other hand really intrigues me. What I like about Orchard is that he can get to the quarterback several different ways. He has power and speed off the edge and he can use his low pad level and explosion to beat the tackle inside. Orchard is a phenomenally skilled football player.

The numbers for Orchard in 2014 were far greater than that of Gregory’s. While Gregory had 7 sacks in the 2014 campaign, Orchard had 18.5 sacks. Simply put Orchard was a more productive player last season.

Aug 28, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive end Nate Orchard (8) and Utah Utes defensive back Brian Blechen (4) look on during the fourth quarter against the Idaho State Bengals at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes won 56-14. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Drafting Orchard over Gregory would be a bold move that would surely be criticized. It would also be a move that you could justify with facts. Orchard is the more skilled player coming off a more productive season without the red flags of Gregory.

Now if you argue that Gregory is a freak athlete with better upside, you can certainly validate that argument. I mean he is a speedy 6-6 physical specimen. I would argue that Orchard has the higher floor. You know what you are going to get from Orchard because his production is based on skill and athletic ability.

Gregory could be another Vernon Gholston, or Aaron Maybin. Gregory is not a sure thing and lacks maturity and self-control. Failing a drug test that you’ve known about for over a year is the epitome of stupid. It just is. Orchard is a mature young man, that the Giants could be proud to have.

I know popular consensus will tell me that I am wrong. The facts though make an awfully compelling argument. Orchard is a better and more responsible draft pick for the Giants.

Next: 2015 NFL Draft: Best Players Available Day 2

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