There are always initial reservations when considering small-school prospects, but Terron Armstead was a highly-coveted player coming out of high school. He chose to go to Arkansas-Pine Bluff because it was the only school that would allow him to participate in both football and track.
Every year, there are a number of offseason “winners” who catapult their draft stock with outstanding workouts. Armstead might be 2013’s biggest offseason winner. At 6-5, 306 pounds, Armstead ran an official 4.71 40-yard dash at the Combine. He also jumped 34.5 inches and posted 31 reps on the bench press. The 40-yard dash is hardly a make-or-break drill for offensive linemen, but that sort of explosiveness is rare and signals elite athleticism. Armstead is such an amazing athlete that many teams have reportedly considered him as a tight end. Yes, a 306-pound tight end.
I watched every snap for Armstead against Jackson State. As you’d expect, he dominated lesser competition. It’s always difficult to grade small-school players because they can often cover up their weaknesses with superior athleticism or strength. You see that at times with Armstead; he would often let rushers get into his chest and pop him back a little, but since he was so much bigger and stronger, he could absorb the blow even if he was flat-footed.
At the East-West Shrine game and Senior Bowl, Armstead performed well but struggled against bull rushes. He mirrors defenders really well—it’s rare for a speed-rusher to blow past him—but he doesn’t have the same advantage in strength to make up for poor technique against NFL-caliber competition.
Armstead is probably best-suited for a zone blocking scheme. He’s obviously a quick lineman who does well getting to the second level. He might have some trouble holding up at the point against big defensive ends, but he’ll improve as he learns better technique. Armstead is somewhat of a project, but a player who could really come into his own in his second year in the league.
NFL Comparison: Joe Staley
Now considered one of the league’s premiere left tackles, Staley was also a highly-athletic small-school prospect. Armstead isn’t nearly as dominant of a run blocker, but he has the same quick feet and upside.
With elite potential at a position of great importance, it’s difficult to put a ceiling on how high Armstead could get drafted. With a handful of other offensive tackles likely to get selected ahead of Armstead, he probably won’t be a first-round pick, but I’d never say never. More likely, a team will take a chance on Armstead in the second round.
Fit In Dallas
If the ‘Boys want Armstead, they’ll probably need to hope he falls to them in the second round and grab him there; he won’t be available 32 picks later. The ‘Boys have a private workout with Armstead scheduled, so there’s obviously at least a moderate amount of interest. With the offense transitioning to more of a zone-blocking philosophy, Armstead might be a good fit, assuming he can hold up on the right side.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.