I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon - 6'8, 290 - Junior
One of the reasons to write these profiles is to offer something fun for everyone to read 4 or 5 years from now to see how much guesswork is done on college players at the age of 20 or 21 to project what they might possibly be when they turn 25 as seasoned pros. Odds are, I will hit on many of these and miss horribly on many more. What is interesting is that I know which ones are candidates to be ones I anticipate could come back to bite me in 2018.
That said, Arik Armstead, is the type of player that requires that we carefully consider his future perhaps even more than his present tense. Presently, Armstead has been a massive recruit for Oregon 3 seasons ago, who has played 3 seasons with the Ducks and amassed 4 sacks, total. He showed many impressive flashes along the way, but never made an All-Pac-12 team while there. To study his work, we watched the Michigan State, Florida State, and Ohio State games from this past season.
What I liked: Armstead is a very big man who impresses you by simply walking out of the huddle with the most intimidating build on the field. He is 6'8, 290 and could be Julius Peppers or Calias Campbell in terms of body-type. He is a true DE in a 3-4 as a 5-technique who lines up to 2-gap right on the right tackle. He is a terrific player at the line of scrimmage in terms of stopping most runs in his vicinity, as well as affecting runs to the other side by chasing down the line. You can see how opposing offensive lines plan tactically to deal directly with Amstead first with a double team or attention that will focus on him when playing the Ducks. He is a handful and is quite strong. He also shows that he will keep battling on many plays and benefits from either cleaning up coverage sacks or causing others to have opportunities. He can bullrush with power on a 1-on-1 matchup. He is just 20, and therefore is still growing into his strength and abilities and could blossom into something pretty special in time. This is his biggest strength, the idea that the NFL loves specimen with tools everywhere, and he just needs to put it together to perhaps be a player like Campbell in time.
What I did not like: Unfortunately, I am not someone who feels really comfortable drafting a player based on tools. I want to see production and chaos caused by a defensive linemen that is projected to go so high in the draft. 2.5 sacks is not going to stop traffic and while I realize a 5-technique is never going to set statistical records, I still want to see him dominate at the college level and that never happened. He plays so high that he often gets beaten by leverage on pass rush attempts and stumbles around on moves. He does not have exceptional quickness and if that isn't there at 20, it often just isn't there. At times, I also look at his motor and would like to see a bit more intensity from his game. He can go long stretches without anything notable on his ledger.
Summary: I have been studying draft prospects for a long time and know that sometimes, this is the type of guy to come back and bite you in the rear in 4 years if you discount them at this age. A positional coach could turn the switch for a guy like this and suddenly he is a superstar. That said, I don't see what others do in this player. There is no doubt he shows flashes, but that can be a very risky play to believe in a guy based on flashes. Also, he is not a scheme fit for the 4-3 as some have suggested he could be a 3-technique DT, but I need explosion there. He is all power and not enough quicks for me. As a 5-tech, he is very interesting but not as exciting as a player like Baylor's Shawn Oakman who decided to return for another year. He looks like a risky proposition for me and I would let someone else draft and develop him. I need to see more present tense greatness to invest heavily - which is what you would have to do to get him based on the buzz he has generated.