New Orleans Saints tackle Terron Armstead swiftly springing towards dominance


When you think of athleticism in football, you think of skill position players (receivers, running backs, cornerbacks, etc).  Am I right?  The last thing you likely think of is an offensive lineman.  They’re not athletic — they’re big and slow. In many cases, that may be true, however, New Orleans Saints‘ starting left tackle Terron Armstead is an exception, a big exception.

Armstead, the Saints’ third-round pick in 2013 out of the small of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, is quickly becoming one of the team’s more reliable blockers for both the running game and quarterback Drew Brees‘ protection in the pocket. Obviously, Brees’ guardianship is vital for the club’s success, especially with him entering his 15th season at 36-years-old.

The offensive line struggled tremendously at times a season ago, forcing Brees to make bad reads and decisions, often resulting in turnovers.  However, Terron Armstead was one of the bright spots in the unit, finishing with an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 6.0 (fourth-highest on team, second-highest among OL behind Zach Strief).

Strief, Armstead’s counterpart on the opposite end, believes the young tackle is only going to get better.

“I would say Terron probably has every single attribute you would look for in an offensive lineman,” Strief said during an interview last week. “I think he’s highly athletic, he’s extremely strong, he’s smart, he works his tail off, he wants to be great. He could be as good, and I don’t even want to say as good as he wants to be, because I know he wants to be a great player. There is no ceiling for him. He could be one of the best of all time.”

Nov 30, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates a touchdown with tackle Terron Armstead (72) and tackle Zach Strief (64) during the second half at Heinz Field. The Saints won the game, 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

As a team captain, Zach Strief isn’t one to hype a guy up unless he’s proved his worth out on the field.  Terron Armstead has done so up to this point, and with some added assistance along the offensive line, he could be in line for his biggest campaign yet with two seasons of learning the system under his belt.

The Saints may have struck third-round gold, and while Armstead probably does have ‘every single attribute you want from a tackle’ (just watch his film), it’s his sheer athleticism that will really turn heads, especially at such a big size.

His nimble movements, quick feet 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 support in both the running and passing departments.

Terron Armstead was not only an outstanding football player at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but he played an essential role on the school’s 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 who would allow him to participate in both sports.

The Saints fell in love with his athleticism, and after taking over starting duties at left tackle in Week 16 of his rookie season in 2013 (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 contest with Trent Cole, Philly’s second all-time career sacks leader.

After he proved himself capable of starting duties in his first full year in 2014, Terron Armstead has glued himself into a significant role — the man in charge of Drew Brees’ blind side.  Already overlooked and undervalued, 2015 could be the year he springs towards dominance as one of the top tackles in the National Football League.  He’s off to a solid start at training camp.

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