In 2012, Arik Armstead came to Oregon as a 5-star recruit, but with a caveat. He was a 5-Star offensive tackle recruit who wanted to play defense. Oregon gave him that chance. Tuesday, the 6’9, 290-pound junior defensive end decided to forgo his senior season and make himself eligible for the NFL Draft. Armstead projects as a late first-round, early second round grade according to most experts — with plenty of time to move up with a good combine.
Before the National Championship Game, NFL.com asked two different General Managers of their opinion of Armstead.
According to one: ”No. 9 (Armstead) is extremely gifted,” the GM told NFL Media’s Albert Breer. “He has first-round talent, no doubt. The more he shows us in the playoff game, the better chance he has. But he’s a 6’8, 290-pound freak.”
Another GM said, “Can see him go very, very high. Has everything you want out of a [defensive lineman]. Height, length, power, pass-rush ability. Needs to show more consistency, but raw potential is very intriguing.”
Armstead projects as a future defensive end in a 3-4 scheme similar to what Oregon ran. Currently, 15 NFL teams run a 3-4 defense including the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and interestingly, Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles.
Coming into the 2014 season, Armstead decided to end his basketball playing career at Oregon to focus on football. In August, he said, “My personal goals are still the same, to help my team as much as I can, be a key component of our defense and be dominant out there along with the rest of the guys on our defense.” Coming into 2014, was Armstead dominant? No, not by a long shot. He was often injured and contributed only 41 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 26 career games over two seasons.
The 2014-2015 season was a different story. Even though he missed four games, Armstead recorded 46 tackles, 5.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks.
However, the numbers don’t come close to telling the story as Armstead routinely disrupted offenses with his power and length. Armstead thanked Duck fans personally in announcing his departure on his Instagram feed:
“Been an awesome 3 years at the University of Oregon. Thank you to my coaches for helping me become a better football player and grow as a man. Thank you to all the oregon fans the best fans in the world who show love and always support me. Thank you to the athletic training staff for keeping me as healthy as possible and thank you to the academic support staff for helping me with my education. I am going to miss my teammates and all the friendships I have built here in Eugene but I will always be a duck #GoDucks.”
Top Photo by John Giustina