Type Armond Armstead’s name into YouTube, and you’ll stumble upon a six-minute clip that highlights the talent of the 22-year-old defensive lineman. As expected, there are plays of hell-raising, and backfield penetration throughout the video. It’s supposed to be that way — it’s a highlight film after all — and then once you watch a full-length game of his, you’re supposed to come away somewhat disappointed.
Except you don’t.
The plays in the video frequently appear when watching full-length games. He’s an impressive player, displaying a non-stop engine and various other traits that D-line coaches look for in their players. Power, quickness, athleticism, and versatility are some of those traits, all of which appeal to the schematically diverse New England Patriots, the team that worked him out leading up to the 2012 draft and then again this offseason prior to signing him.
Armstead’s traits also appealed to those who covered the Canadian Football League this past season. Andrew Bucholtz, editor of Yahoo!’s CFL blog 55-Yard Line, told me that Armstead was a “dominant force” who has “power and gap control.” Toronto Argonauts Player Personnel Assistant Chris Rosetti’s first three words about Armstead were “He’s a stud.”
Rosetti later raved about Armstead’s versatility, which the lineman has plenty of. He played various positions across the line, ranging from zero technique nose tackle to standup outside linebacker. One play that stood out at linebacker came against Montreal in Week 5.
The Argos were in their exotic one lineman package, with Armstead lined up at left outside linebacker. He was leaning over with his weight pressing on his right foot, in position to explode off the line and deconstruct every pass blocking fundamental the Alouettes right tackle had previously learned.
At the snap, he burst forward and sunk his pads prior to engaging the right tackle. Upon contact, the blocker popped back because of Armstead’s heavy hands, and he immediately started to lose his balance. His legs split wider and his hips changed direction as if he was a novice on a skating rink.
Armstead wouldn’t let up. He dipped his pads further down, bent his knees, and powered through his lower body. He lifted the blocker off the ground and knocked him backward. A full-slide by the Alouettes offensive line aided the right tackle, however, as the right guard bumped Armstead to cease the rush.
The rush was slowed, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Armstead is unlikely to spend much time at linebacker for the Patriots despite his athleticism and agility, though. He’s likely to serve as a one or three technique defensive tackle in a four-man front, and perhaps a five technique in a three-man front because of his 6-foot-5, 298-pound frame. That’s what Rosetti thinks Armstead can play, as does Bucholtz.
“I see him mostly as an NFL defensive end, but one who’s more of a power rusher/run-stopper than a pure speed guy, and one who could rotate inside in certain packages,” Bucholtz said. “I think Armstead will work out well for the Patriots, but a lot depends on how well he can adjust to the different game and the different roles they’ll want him to play.”
Whichever technique Armstead does play, there will be a lot of coaching to take in. He’s still raw as a pass-rusher despite what some of the impressive videos show; he sometimes fails to bend his knees, and he can play with tall pad level as a result. And there’s always improvement to be made with hand usage, which is mandatory for success in the NFL.
But with Armstead’s physical skill-set and what Rosetti calls a work ethic that “makes players around him better,” the Patriots appear to have a defender who has top-90 talent, and upside that’s through the roof.
Lead pic via Patriots Life