NFL Draft Preview: USC DT Armond Armstead


Oct 17, 2009; South Bend, IN, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end Armond Armstead celebrates a victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Southern California defeated Notre Dame 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Name: Armond ArmsteadHeight: 6’4″Weight: 295Projection: Late rounds or undrafted free agent

The 2011 football season was supposed to be a year where Armond Armstead made his mark on the Trojans’ defense.  After starting at defensive end for all but one game in 2010, he was moved back to his more natural position of defensive tackle prior to spring practice.  With his size and strength, this appeared to be a move that was going to improve the interior of the defense.  Unfortunately, he missed all of spring practice with an undisclosed medical condition relating to his chest.  This same medical condition would go on to end his career at Troy as he missed the entire 2011 season and subsequently declared for the NFL Draft at the conclusion of the season.

Armstead has a pretty good motor but that didn’t always translate into production on the field, especially in pass rush situations.  In 2010 he finished with 3 sacks but 2 of those sacks came in the final game of the season against crosstown rival UCLA.  He was a solid run defender that played with good leverage at the point of attack, used his hands well, and made good use of his upper body strength.  His overall lack of production might have had something to do with him playing out of position at defensive end.  His skill set was probably more suited for a 3 technique in a 4-3 defense at the collegiate level.    In 2010 the 3 technique was manned by former Trojan Jurrell Casey, who was a 3rd round pick of the Tennessee Titans, so Armstead playing out of position was understandable.

Armstead has received interests from many NFL teams; visiting the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, and Miami Dolphins.  Additionally he hosted a workout in early April at Sacramento State University for 12 NFL teams.  In the workout he posted a 5.05 second 40-yard time, a 30 inch vertical, and a 10 foot broad jump.  These numbers certainly highlight the overall athletic ability that he possess and may entice a team to reach up into the 5th round to grab him.  Despite these numbers there is still the undisclosed medical condition and the fact that he did not play during the 2011 season.  These two items together will most likely cause teams to remove him from their draft board, making it difficult for him to get drafted and ensuring that he will at least be around into the late rounds.

There is no doubt that Armstead certainly could have used another year of seasoning at the collegiate level.  Without that additional year, playing in a more natural position for him, I believe that he will be a project at the next level.  His skill set translates to a 5 technique (defensive end) in a 3-4 defense at the NFL level.  So a year as an interior defensive lineman in college would have helped with his transition to the pro game.

Despite his outstanding athletic ability, he hasn’t shown the up field explosion necessary to play the 3 technique in the NFL or the pass rush ability to be an edge rusher at that level.  Playing a 5 technique in a 3-4 defense will allow him to use his size and strength to occupy offensive tackles and keep them from getting to linebackers.  The 5 technique on a 3-4 defense won’t require him to be a great pass rusher since the rush generally comes from the outside linebackers.  His main responsibility will  be run stuffing and keeping “garbage” out of the pursuit lanes of the linebackers.

There is an outside chance that he may get drafted in the 6th or 7th round by a team that has time to develop him, but I think it more likely that he will be an undrafted free agent.  Going undrafted may work to his advantage as it will allow him to pick a team that runs a 3-4 defense and has time to bring him along slowly.  Approximately 14 NFL teams run a 3-4 defense so there are plenty of teams that can use his services.  Having not played in over a year he will need time to knock the rust off and acclimate himself to the speed of the pro game.

Check out our other previews of Nick Perry, DaJohn Harris, Chris Galippo, and Rhett Ellison.

The NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 26th at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.