The scouting combine gives teams an excellent chance to get a quick glimpse of the future of the National Football League. With some young, extraordinary talents set to display their athletic abilities to coaches and scouts in late February, the New Orleans Saints will be looking to fill some gaping holes on both offense and defense.
It was a rough year for the Black and Gold, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The pass rush was nearly absent, so Sean Payton and company will have to look to the 2015 NFL Draft to add some extra talent to get after opposing quarterbacks.
Today, we’ll evaluate defensive end Erik Armstead, the monster lineman who helped lead Oregon to the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship game this year.
In mid-January, following the big loss to Ohio State, the junior DE announced that he would forgo his senior year and declare for the NFL Draft. Projected to go late in the first or early in the second round, Armstead would likely be a top-10 pick in next year’s draft.
His size is clearly elite, having a frame with more room to bulk up, which is hard to believe. He’s quick and explosive, which helps him push upfield against blockers, achieving direct leverage against the run.
Armstead’s size and strength grant him the ability to quickly free from blockers. On top of that, he benefits from his length and quick feet, which give him a capital tackle radius.
His overall athletic ability will likely find him success in the NFL, but he still has some developing to do as a pass rusher — quarterback sacks were hardly a component of his game with the Ducks. His moves and use of hands are a bit below average, but those are things that can certainly be cultivated on the practice field.
Armstead’s numbers were not eye-popping during his junior year, tallying 46 total tackles (5.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 13 games. However, it’s his size and potential as an elite defensive player that have him listed as one of the top prospects at his position. He could go a long way for the New Orleans Saints, and could wind up being a steal in the second round.