In the 2014 NFL Draft, there are many kinds of pass rushers. One of the best defensive ends in this year’s class is Oregon’s Arik Armstead. He leapt off the screen during the first round of the college football championship series, so I decided to review a few of his games against Ohio State, Florida State, and Texas. After watching those three contests, I am excited to see him use those talents at the next level.
DE Arik Armstead, Oregon 6’ 7” 292 lbs.
Cons: The defender is not a fluid athlete and can get knocked off-balance when he leans too far forward. That is the issue with being 6’ 7”. Armstead comes out like a cyclone, but seems to fade in the fourth quarter; perhaps he will need to start his NFL career as a situational pass rusher. The defensive lineman also needs to do a better job keeping his hips underneath him, so he can keep protect his body better from blocks against offensive linemen that are trying to tangle him up.
Pros: Armstead explodes off the line with a quick first step. He uses a powerful punch to separate himself from would-be blockers, knocking them back. The defensive end uses a combination of spins, swim moves, chops, and dips to get to the quarterback. This usually forces o-lines to use double teams against him, neutralizing his effectiveness but helps free other defenders. He has slightly above average vision, a good motor, and bouncy feet that he uses to crash down the line of scrimmage. Armstead was at his best when he ran stunts switching gaps (the five versus the three) with the defensive tackle. The defensive lineman could slip past the center and guards with more ease than offensive tackles. The Ducks would occasionally line him up against a guard as those plays were mostly successful. Teams rarely ran his way, because he did a good job of anchoring his position.
Overall thoughts: If Armstead can learn to protect his longer body, he could become an impactful pass rusher. Right now his skill set reminds me a bit of the Rams Chris Long aka solid against the run and pass, but not an all-pro.
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