We continue our look at ten Trojans we're keeping an eye on this spring with a player whose size and speed made him the talk of fall camp last year. After an unfortunate foot injury, this defensive lineman is looking to use spring football as the groundwork for a dominating season.
Position: Defensive lineman
Size: 6-5, 295 lbs.
Last year: 6 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 blocked PAT
Position Coach: Ed Orgeron
Contenders for his position: Nick Perry, Wes Horton, Malik Jackson, Jurrell Casey, Christian Tupou
Why he's number seven:
Armstead is a riddle wrapped in a mystery surrounded by an enigma. He has the size of a defensive tackle but had Pete Carroll wide-eyed because his speed allowed him to play defensive end. The return of Ed Orgeron makes Armstead an even more intriguing player to keep an eye on given the coach's history in developing talent. As much as people talk about Jurrell Casey making a jump to the next level, Armstead - if he stays healthy - could be the guy we're talking about as well.
Questions to be answered:
1. Can he stay healthy?
This is a common question for just about everyone on the team but holds especially true for Armstead as he comes off a broken left foot that shortened his season. The buzz around him during fall camp was legitimate, after all a 295-pound defensive end coming down on a quarterback is just too interesting not to notice. The problem with foot injuries are seeing if a player can regain the push off without favoring the foot. If Armstead makes it through the spring healthy, he could make a huge impact on the defensive line.
2. Where will he play?
Although Armstead figures to get a look at defensive end first, there's still a chance he'll slide inside. He could play all four line positions like Nick Perry did last year, possibly sliding inside on nickel or third down packages. The depth chart at this point is pretty fluid with a new coaching staff but with Wes Horton, Malik Jackson and Perry having shown flashes at end, the coaches might like Armstead as part of the tackle rotation as a better way to get as much talent on the field at once. One thing is certain with Orgeron however, expect Armstead to give 100% effort no matter where he plays.
3. How much does he help the rest of the line?
Often overlooked when talking about defensive lineman is who draws double-teams; Jurrell Casey was certainly a player who drew them more often as last season wore on. If Armstead could become an end who starts to draw double teams, the defensive line could be downright devastating when offenses have to account for two guys that need to be double-teamed. Armstead's size makes him tough to have a running back help out and with a fullback or tight end having to help block, could mean Christian Tupou, Hebron Fangupo or one of the other defensive ends can get into the backfield much, much easier.
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