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Arik Armstead, the junior defensive lineman from the Oregon Ducks, enters the 2015 NFL draft after starting 13 games this past season. For the year, he totaled 46 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 5.5 TFL. He was named as an Honorable Mention All-Pac12 performer. Prior to starting in 2014, Armstead was a rotational player at Oregon who managed 87 career tackles to go along with 4 sacks and 10 TFL. Physically, Armstead is an imposing 6’8″ and 290 lbs. He fits the mold of the classic 34 DE that can hold their ground versus the run and eat up blocks. Even at 290 lbs, he appears capable of adding more weight. Armstead moves well for a big man, showing adequate lateral agility and the quickness needed to shed and make a play on runs in his direction. He won’t be much of an impact player in pursuit, as at times he appears to give less than 100% effort when trailing. Armstead will need to improve his get-off at the snap, as he’s not the quickest prospect out of his stance. He relies on his brute strength and power to win, displaying heavy hands and arm extension at the POA. He’s capable of stunning his opponent with a powerful punch, giving himself time to locate the ball. That said, there are far too many occasions when he bull rushes into the lineman without much penetration or impact on the play. He’s rarely moved off his point, and he’s a sound space eater, but he lacks the quick-twitch athleticism or developed arsenal of counter moves at this point in his development to project as a guy who will make a living in the backfield. His length and reach will frustrate opposing quarterbacks, but he’s not the kind of finisher who will tally big sack numbers in the NFL.
BOTTOM LINE: Arik Armstead is the kind of prospect that a coaching staff will want to get their hands on, as his physical measureables are rare. He’s a dangerous prospect, though, because he’s a true projection at this point. And while most NFL Draft prospects are inherently projections, Armstead is a player who didn’t make a consistent enough impact to feel all that confident about his upward trajectory. I worry about his intensity level, as his tape suggests he’s a guy that doesn’t hustle from snap to whistle. That said, there are moments on tape where his punch paralyzed his opponent and allowed him to make a sound play against the run. If he can harness that natural power and hand play and develop it a bit, he’ll be a very good run defender in a 34 front. He’s a buyer beware prospect who looks to be worth the risk toward the end of Day 2.
GRADE: 7.0 (3rd Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)