Drafting in the Trenches

Noah Smith FishWrap, FishWrap Archive 1 Comment

While the hot topic in Eugene pertaining to the NFL Draft is Marcus Mariota’s stock, the fact is, there are other players from Oregon going into the draft who are just as intriguing. These players are all mountainous men who play in the trenches, from Hroniss Grasu on the offensive side to Arik Armstead on the defensive side of the line. Both players are ranked in the Top 10 of their position groups, with Grasu ranked as the No. 3 center in the draft.

Hroniss Grasu At The Line

Gary Breedlove

Hroniss Grasu at the line.

Starting with Grasu, his game is very versatile and useful at the NFL level. Most draft profiles include rave reviews about his lack of weakness, but also harp on his lack of any great strengths. All in all, he is seen as a very solid and adaptable player who could fit in any NFL scheme, but who physically is only slightly above average. Where he does get a boost in almost all draft profiles is in his intangibles, with everyone recognizing what we already know; Grasu is a hard worker and a natural-born leader. These intangible boosts make him a very highly-rated mid-round pick who I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team like the New England Patriots or New Orleans Saints take a chance on.

Jolly Green Giant Arik Armstead

Craig Strobeck

Jolly Green Giant Arik Armstead

On the defensive side, Armstead is projected to go anywhere from the end of the first round to the middle of the second round. He projects in this range because he is seen as being a bit of a raw prospect, much like Dion Jordan was. He has tons of upside but also is a bit of an unknown at the pro level. At the same time, Armstead projects with some scheme versatility, being seen as a guy who can play a 3 Tech Defensive Tackle in a 43 defense as well as a 5 tech Defensive End in a 34 defense. His biggest strength is just how hard it is to get a hand on him because of his enormous wingspan. His size and speed combination combined with his increased production last season has many GMs intrigued, and Armstead’s performance at the NFL Scouting Combine and his Pro Day could potentially make him a mid first-round pick.

These two lineman show that Oregon didn’t begin and end with Mariota, but rather had a strong team that was very stout in the trenches. While Armstead is clearly the more popular prospect, I personally feel like Hroniss Grasu will be the better pro. I say that because although maybe not as physically gifted, Grasu is a high intangible guy. Meanwhile Armstead has amazing physical ability but hasn’t fully lived up to his potential. Regardless, both of these guys will likely succeed at the next level, no matter where they wind up.

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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