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Saints NFL Draft Prospects: Arik Armstead

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Arik Armstead is a very large, menacing, tree-like man who could make the Saints defensive front forest-like. A regular old forest, except for all of the sacks. And the fear.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

When he’s not chillin’ with his New Orleans Saints left tackle father Terron (jk) on their eponymous homestead, "The Armstead" (jk), the 6’8" 290 pound Arik is shakin’ off any foe ridin’ all up on his beanstalk (for reals).

Arik "Stretch" Armstead, THE giant man from NorCal, moved to Eugene to play for the Oregon Ducks after originally committing to USC. A move despite the fact that, according to Wikipedia, his high school town was at one point the fastest growing city in the U.S. between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005. True story.

Arik is a highly efficient big man, having scored a field goal on an attempt in his lone game (4 minutes) in a convincing win against Washington State. That’s 100% shooting for his bball career. Ostensibly having mastered basketball, Arik set his sights on football.

Opposite other Ducks’ similarly giant and ironically named "DeForest" Buckner, Arik was an imposing force in the Pac 12 for the past two seasons. You wouldn’t know it from looking at his stats, however. In 2013, despite playing in all 13 games, he had 15 tackles, 3 TFL, and a sack. The following year, he stepped it up nicely with 46 tackles, 5.5 TFL, and 2.5 sacks (including a forced fumble).

What Arik really brought to that Ducks defense was a long, strong, colossal defensive end that often drew and subsequently spanked double teams which in turn freed up plays for his backers. He indiscriminately owns linemen and breaks blocks like Treebeard did the will of Saruman and the backs of the Orcs in the Two Towers.

His greatest trait (Arik, not Treebeard) and therefore his value add to many teams, is his imposition. Like his NFL counterpart Calais Campbell, by virtue of size and athleticism, Arik is the kind of guy for which opposing OCs will have to specifically scheme. He’ll use his length and quickness to engulf ball carriers within reach – He just has to be mindful to get to them in the first place. Joe Kearns did a nice, timely breakdown of some of the finer points of Arik’s game over at Fish Duck.

For all of his abilities and motor though, Arik is a raw pass rusher. He is lacking in pass rush moves and his height can be a liability if guards get underneath him. He also needs to play to his height to deflect more passes. Though, the way I see it, adding Arik would be, at least initially, less about adding an efficient pass rusher than about a menacing presence up front that would create opportunities for guys like Jordan, Hicks, and Galette.

CSC’s Wallace Delery did a nice piece on "polished over potential" Saints selections for the next draft and, while I generally agree, I think a guy like Arik has such unique and tremendous potential as to at least warrant a look – and, unfortunately, ‘polished’ defenders might be hard to come by at #13, save for maybe MSU’s Trae Waynes.

Aside from him sharing a somewhat unique surname with our left tackle, what would Arik’s role be as a Saint? I propose – Tree. Yes, Rob Ryan and Dennis Allen teach Arik how to be a randomly spawning sycamore every play by extending his arms up and out and giving Matty Ice an obnoxiously tall and fiercely aggressive arboreal threat.

Arik’s a run stopping, bull rushing, pocket pusher (call someone that in a bar and see how they react) who, with some refinement, could become a dominant 3-4 defensive end in New Orleans. I could see him playing up front with Jordan and Hicks - The Treesy Threesy in the Big Easy (if we could stuff Bunkley somewhere in there, it’d naturally be The Big Cheesy Treesy (but I digress)).

So, where would we take him? That has a lot to do with who goes where on April 30th (duh, Aaron). I thought Vic Beasley would be available to us for the longest time, but he’s likely gone way before #13. I’m also seeing Bud Dupree going in the top-10 these days. The Browns pick before us and need a defensive tackle, so Danny Shelton may also be off the cards. We could go CB or o line here, but I’m thinking we build the defense inside out at #13, who might be Armstead (or possibly Malcolm Brown), and then grab one of those stout linemen at #31. Who knows? Nobody. Except for maybe Treebeard.

By snagging a player like Arik Armstead in the first round, the Saints would at best be investing in some tremendous potential, and at worst an effective run-stopper or a top-shelf-item-grabber for Brandin Cooks. What are your thoughts, friends?