Arik Armstead – San Francisco 49ers
Arik Armstead was a two sport athlete at Oregon University. Originally he played basketball and football for the Ducks before giving up basketball to focus on the sport that best suited his potential. After starting 13 games in 2014, Armstead declared for the NFL draft, where the San Francisco 49ers selected him with the 17th overall pick. Armstead is a defensive end who has the proper size of an NFL end, but quite frankly his early selection was a surprise. The 49ers took Armstead because of his potential and not his production. It was not until the 2014 season when he really made an impact at Oregon. Armstead looked the part far before he started to play the part. He finished his last collegiate season with 46 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Armstead is 6’7” and nearly 300 pounds. He is a good athlete for his size and has the potential to become a good NFL defensive player.
Graphic via wgnplus
What the 49ers saw in him was his size and length. He has very long arms that allow him to reach and tackle players that may have been outside of his area. The potential in Armstead is to become a very good run stopper in the NFL. Most NFL teams covet defensive ends who are great pass rushers but that is not really his skill set. He could use a lot of improvement in that area and if he is to stay at defensive end he will need to have some capability rushing the passer. In college, Armstead attempted to bull rush offensive lineman. He is not creative as a rusher and does not have any moves, which hopefully he can learn at the next level. He is still very young as a player but could potentially improve leaps and bounds in the next few seasons.
After giving up basketball, Armstead showed a lot of improvement as a football player. The 49ers hope that he is just scratching the surface of his overall potential. They also had a huge need on defensive after several defensive players suddenly chose to retire, although most of the losses were at linebacker. Despite his limitations, Armstead could see the field in his rookie season. Chances are he will need to transition into a defensive tackle rather than a defensive end to succeed at the NFL level. He has tremendous size and could be a lane clogger in the run game. Grabbing Armstead in the first round may have been a bit of reach but other NFL teams were very high on him as well. It is unknown what he will become at the next level but the 49ers hope they can fast track his development and turn him into a productive football player.
Graphic via sfgate