Summary: The Oregon program has developed a reputation for producing some freak athletes, and Armstead is the latest in that line from the defensive side of the ball. This year, the athleticism and skill set of Marcus Mariota has been the focus of the media, but Armstead is a rare physical freak as well.
If you're looking for big production from Armstead, you're not going to find it. The sophomore totaled 15 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack in 2014. Armstead started the year strongly with a solid September. He had 10 tackles with four for a loss and one sack across the first four games of the season. To open October, Armstead injured his ankle against Arizona, and he was in and out of the lineup for some time. Armstead missed games against California and UCLA while being limited in other contests. He finished 2014 with a total of 37 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Armstead had a solid performance against Michigan State in Week 2. To end the year, he flashed early against Florida State and Ohio State, before falling quiet in the second half.
As a run-defender, Armstead is strong to hold his spot and not get pushed out of his gap. He holds up well and sets the edge. Armstead could stand to improve shedding blocks and making tackles, and in the NFL, his scheme will require him to do more of that most likely.
Armstead flashes brilliance in his pass rush. There are plays where he destroys tackles with converting speed to power to collapses the pocket. Armstead can burn right tackles with speed around the edge or power his way into the backfield with a bull rush. He has the skill set to be capable of doing just about anything he wants to linemen. Armstead would be better off going against right tackles for a speed and power mismatch. His strength could pose real problems for left tackles, but he probably won't burn them.
Both a general manager and a college scouting director told me they both felt Armstead was a solid second-rounder. They agree that he has size and talent, but hasn't produced as they hoped. They said that Oregon's defensive front and system doesn't lend to players being highly productive. That was the case with Dion Jordan as well. Both teams felt that Armstead's best fit would come as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. In a 4-3, he would play a power left end and move inside to tackle to rush the quarterback in passing situations.
Armstead looks like a first- or second-round pick who has the upside to develop into a very good player who causes disruption at the point of attack with solid run defense and the ability to get after the quarterback.
Player Comparison: Calais Campbell. Campbell and Armstead are very similar athletes. Campbell (6-8, 300) is a giant defensive end who fits best in the Cardinals' 3-4 defense. Armstead looks very similar. They both have a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism for long athletes who carry their weight well. Campbell was a second-round pick and multiple teams have told WalterFootball.com they grade out Armstead for Round 2. Armstead could go in the first or second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Campbell was similar in the 2008 NFL Draft and ended up going in Round 2.
NFL Matches: San Francisco, Arizona, Dallas, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Oakland, New York Giants, Cincinnati, Seattle
The 49ers would be a perfect fit for Armstead. San Francisco lost both of its starting five-technique defensive ends this offseason with Justin Smith retiring and Ray McDonald signing with Chicago. Armstead would be a perfect scheme fit and could be in play for the 49ers in the first or second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Cardinals cut Darnell Dockett and replaced him with veterans Cory Redding and Corey Peters. Redding played well last year, but he's aging and Peters is nothing special. Armstead could give Arizona twin towers with Campbell.
Dallas could consider Armstead in the early rounds. Greg Hardy only signed a 1-year deal, and Armsteaed could also play on the inside at defensive tackle.
The Colts needed to bring in some defensive end help after losing Redding. They signed Kendall Langford, but could still use a true disruptor on the defensive line.
Early in the second round, there are a lot of teams that could consider Armstead. Atlanta, Oakland and the Giants could all use help in the pass rush and at defensive end.
The Bengals brought back Michael Johnson, but he hasn't played well the past two seasons. Cincinnati's pass rush was completely dependent on Carlos Dunlap, and the team needs more talent up front.
If Armstead were to slide to the end of the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Seahawks would be a nice fit to play him at end on running downs and move him inside in passing situations.