The New Orleans Saints struggled here and there on the offensive line in 2013. It was apparent that the weak spot of Drew Brees‘ protection was at left tackle. When Coach Sean Payton finally had enough of Charles Brown, he called upon Terron Armstead during the Week 15 matchup against the St. Louis Rams.
Armstead was taken as the Black and Gold’s No. 76 overall selection in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Manufactured at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, he earned All-SWAC honors in 2010, 2011 and 2012 . He was not only an outstanding football player, but he played an essential role on the schools’ track and field team as a shot put champion. Armstead passed on several Divion 1 scholarships because Pine Bluff’s coach was the only one that would allow him to participate in both sports.
He is actually quite the athlete for the tackle position. His nimble movements and outstanding change of direction usually grant him the advantage over attacking pass rushers. At 6-foot-5 and 304 pounds, his big, athletic frame provides excellent run and pass support.
After taking over starting duties at left tackle in Week 16 (Weeks 16, 17 and two playoff games), the Saints allowed only four sacks and averaged 129 yards on the ground, which was the best they’ve seen all year. He played especially well in the NFC wild-card game against the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was matched up for a good potion of the competition with Trent Cole, Philly’s second all-time career sacks leader.
Armstead earned his spot as the starter heading into training camp, but will still need to outshine his competition in order to keep his job secure. He certainly has the advantage, but Bryce Harris and Tavon Rooks hope to give him a run for his money. However, it will take something big to change Sean Payton’s mind.
For now, he is the clear-cut candidate to protect Drew Brees’ blind side. Training camp kicks off on July 25, so it’s almost time for the sophomore tackle to prove to Sean Payton and company that he is capable of being the franchise’s long-term answer on the offensive line. I have very little doubts about Armstead — he’s got the potential to be a dominant force for years to come.