The offensive tackle from Arkansas-Pine Bluff not only was a three-time all-conference selection in football, but he was an eight-time conference champion in track and field and second-team All-American this season in the shot put.
"It's a different type of explosiveness that you have to have to throw the shot put about 60 feet," Armstead said on Thursday here at Lucas Oil Stadium. "It's not a direct relation, I don't think, but it helps your feet, helps your explosiveness."
The Green Bay Packers enter this draft in need of offensive line help, even if left tackle Marshall Newhouse takes another step forward and right tackle Bryan Bulaga is healthy and returns to form. Derek Sherrod, the 2011 first-round pick who was drafted to be the team's left tackle of the future, missed the 2012 season with a broken leg. The team has no clue what it has in him after two years. Don Barclay, an undrafted rookie, held his own in replacing the injured Bulaga but might be better served becoming the team's utility guy in the middle.
In that light, a source told Packer Report on Friday that the Packers have shown a lot of interest in the 6-foot-5, 306-pound offensive tackle who ran a stunning 4.65 in his 40-yard dash on Friday morning.
"I've been blessed with a unique skill-set," Armstead said. "I'm extremely light on my feet for a big guy, I have to say. It's a blessing. It was nothing that was coached."
Armstead was a good but not great player in the FCS-level Southwestern Athletic Conference. He was a three-time, second-team all-conference selection. However, he elevated his play at the East-West Shrine Game, and performed well as a late addition to the Senior Bowl. With his size, speed and length (34 7/8-inch arms), he's got a shot to play left tackle as someone rising easily into a Day 2 prospect.
Coming out of Cahokia (Ill.) High, Armstead said he was being recruited by the likes of Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. However, he didn't pass the ACT in time and was ruled ineligible. Having to go down a rung, Armstead chose Pine Bluff because it allowed him to compete in football as well as track and field. Pine Bluff is coached by Monte Coleman, the longtime Washington Redskins standout linebacker. Defensive coordinator Dennis Winston played linebacker in the NFL for a decade and was part of two Super Bowl champions.
"It was great," Armstead of learning under Coleman. "He taught us a lot – not just about football but about being a man in the community. He played 17 years so he knows what it takes to get to the NFL. That's why I believe everything happens for a reason."
Talking one day before putting up 31 reps on the 225-pound bench press and two days before his jaw-dropping 40, Armstead knew a lot was at stake – including a lot of money to be made.
"Yes, sir," he said. "Show them my athleticism, speed, quickness, be smooth, be fluid. I have some pretty good technique but I know I need some work on every aspect of my game but I have some pretty good technique."
Going to Pine Bluff wasn't what he was hoping for but everything has worked out, culminated with one of the best postseasons of any player in this draft.
"It's a great feeling, man," Armstead said. "It's a blessing. It's a blessing. It's always been my dream to play football in the NFL. To be this close is just great."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.