Breakdown: 49ers Select Arik Armstead

Everything you need to know about the San Francisco 49ers’ first-round selection of defensive end Arik Armstead out of Oregon from Scout's college and pro football experts.

Awaiting Image
Arik Armstead
Oregon / 6'7 / 292 lbs
  • DT
  • [1] #17


In 2012 many of us felt Armstead had the most upside as an offensive tackle. This five-star from Elk Grove, Calif. stuck with the other side of the ball though. Still, he had a nice college career at Oregon and is a potential first round pick on April 30th. He’s enormous at 6-foot-7, 292-pounds. Armstead didn’t put up huge numbers but certainly had an impact on the Ducks defense. He can become a strong side defensive end in an NFL 4-3 defense but is likely best suited to play the five-technique in a base 3-4. Armstead has very good feet and athleticism for a bigger man, which is why he would have made an even better offensive tackle.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

The 49ers moved back two spots and picked up a couple of mid-round picks and still landed former Duck star defensive end Arik Armstead. This five-star from Elk Grove, Calif. had a nice college career at Oregon. He’s enormous at 6-foot-7, 292-pounds. Armstead didn’t put up huge numbers but certainly had an impact on the Ducks defense. He will be a defensive end at the five-technique position in the 49ers defense. Armstead has very good feet and athleticism for a bigger man. He’s so long and moves so well. He played two seasons of college basketball at Oregon, which says something about his ability. This is a club that has lost a lot this off-season and their first pick goes to re-fortifying the trenches.

Recruited as a dual athlete (football and basketball), it took three seasons before Arik Armstead became comfortable on the gridiron, but despite posting 2.5 sacks among his 5.5 stops for loss this season, his 46 tackles this season and posting 87 hits in 39 games with just four career sacks might be strong indications that he is playing out of position at defensive end.

With his body size, he would be better served at tackle in a conventional 4-3 alignment. His “pedestrian” like statistics this year is a marked improvement over his first two seasons with the Ducks, when he had 26 tackles, two for loss, as a freshman. He followed by 15 tackles in 2013, but after starting the first five games that year, he was relegated to reserve duty the rest of the schedule.

Armstead shows above average balance and flexibility on the move, but lacks explosive acceleration in backside pursuit. He is the type that makes quick reads and reacts with good urgency once he locates the ball, but there are times where he can be “faked out” by play action and misdirection. He plays with good aggression, but is best when he engages the offensive lineman and attack with his hands, rather than try and get “too cute” and escape (lacks the lateral agility and sudden burst to escape).

Armstead moves well off the line, getting his best production when he beats the offensive tackle coming out of his stance, but must develop a better initial step in order to get through the blockers in tight areas. When he gets a free lane, he has the ability to knife through and penetrates the line, but is not really an explosive form tackler when closing on the quarterback.

This is not to say that he lacks ability – just experience. He would be a better fit at five-technique, showing much better success there when the team went to the 3-4 base defense last season. While some teams still feel he is a nice fit as a strong-side end in a 4-3 base system, I cite his lack of ideal lateral agility, evident by his poor performances in the shuttle (4.53) and three-cone drills (7.57) at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.

Armstead has rare size for the position and that allows him to play inside or outside. He has good athleticism considering how big he is, but he is not “blazing” off the ball to consistently escape offensive tackles on the edge, but is more than strong enough to take on and defeat double team blocking as an interior lineman.

Armstead did demonstrate quicker feet around the line of scrimmage and a developing spin move to get around offensive tackles last season, but with his very long arms, you would wish he would use them to keep linemen from locking into his midsection. He is pretty effective with a bull rush, as eight of his ten stops behind the line of scrimmage came while redirecting inside.

One thing Armstead doesn't have is an elite speed rush, or great quickness, as his 5.10-second 40-yard dash is a number more suited for a defensive (or offensive) tackle. He does have the quickness and enough speed to get around some tackles, but a lot of the time, his blocker can get to his outside which is where his inside moves come in handy.

As a run stopper, Armstead has the strength to hold his ground, although he doesn't always fire out low and quick and get immediate penetration. However, he is more than capable of holding his ground and does do a good job of coming down the line to make plays. In pursuit, this is where he doesn't stand out, as he lumbers a bit and doesn't show great straight line speed. He does do a decent job of sniffing out screens and draws though, and does an adequate job of staying home and not being fooled by misdirection.

While there is not much chatter among scouts at the Oregon Pro Day about possibly moving him to the offensive line, one coach did have this assessment of that possible move in regards to Armstead’s potential there; Has great size and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition…It is quite possible with added bulk and improved technical skills this athlete could be an immediate impact player… This prospect demonstrates very good initial quick set ability in pass protection…Can bend and slide his feet with a balanced base…Has very good upper body playing strength, explosiveness and hand quickness…Must improve his hand placement after initial contact but he is an athlete capable of getting to the deep set point against edge rushers while adjusting to quick inside change of direction moves…His toughness and finishing attitude should serve him well at the next level of play.

Arik Armstead NFL Scouting Combine measurables

6-7/292 (5.10 forty)
33-inch arm length
10 1/2-inch hands
34-inch vertical jump
117-inch broad jump
7.57 3 cone drill
4.53 20 yard shuttle

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.


Prospects by: OVERALL RANK | Position | College | Home State | Name

Related: NFL Scouting Combine Coverage

Scout NFL Network Top Stories