Terron Armstead without question deserved a trip to the 2015 Pro Bowl as one of the top offensive tackles in the NFL, but he fell victim to fan voting. In fact, no New Orleans Saints players were selected to attend the ‘all-star game’ for the first time since 2007.
It’s understandable that due to a disastrous year, not one New Orleans Saints player earned an invite to the Pro Bowl — no Drew Brees and no Cam Jordan, even though they are ‘household names.’ The selection process is based on fan voting, so the more of a household name you are, the better chance you have at making it to the NFL’s ‘all-star game.’
Unfortunately, Terron Armstead is not a household name just yet, even though he has become one of the most dominant offensive tackles in all of football since the Saints selected him in the third round out of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Per Pro Football Focus, Armstead is very accurately graded (+28.5) as the third-best tackle in the league though 14 games behind only Tyron Smith (+37.8) and Joe Thomas (+37.6). Again, with the Saints’ tremendous struggles, it’s understandable that fans looked the other way to the more flashy teams and players.
Obviously winning is far better than personal achievements, but it’s a shame to see Armstead finish his near-flawless 2015 campaign without being recognized as a Pro Bowl player. There’s always that chance he or another Saints player gets in as a late reserve, but the fact that he was not included in the initial vote is a bit disappointing.
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So, while the majority of NFL fans fail to recognize who Terron Armstead is and what he does and means to this New Orleans Saints team, I’ll go ahead and take a little time out of my day to do just that.
When you think of athleticism in football, you think of skill position players (receivers, running backs, cornerbacks, etc). The last thing you likely think of is an offensive lineman. They’re not athletic — they’re big and slow. And in many cases, that is true. However, Terron Armstead is an exception, a big exception.
Armstead has has not only become the team’s most reliable blocker for the running game, but he’s protecting Drew Brees’ blindside, which is critical for both a quarterback’s success and well being. When it comes to age and ceiling, Armstead is arguably the most valuable piece to this franchise.
Zach Strief, Armstead’s aging and declining counterpart on the right side, believes he could be one of the greatest to ever play his position.
“I would say Terron probably has every single attribute you would look for in an offensive lineman,” Strief said during a preseason interview. “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.”
That was before the season began when Terron Armstead was on his way to dominance. Now, in just 14 games since the interview, he has become one of the best in the league. I’d like to hear what Strief has to say now after Armstead took a massive leap forward in a such a small amount of time.
The Saints struck third-round gold, and while Armstead does have ‘every single attribute you want from a tackle’, 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 — we’ve seen it all year.
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 portion of the contest with Trent Cole, Philly’s second all-time career sacks leader.
After proving himself capable of starting duties in his first full year in 2014 and then absolutely dominating this season, Terron Armstead has glued himself into one of the most critical roles on the team. The overlooked and undervalued Pro Bowl snub is one of the best at what he does, and it should only get better from here. ‘Household name’ status is just around the corner.