The New Orleans Saints are one of the few teams around the NFL still utilizing the fullback position. And they generally do it like no other team. Because of that, a unique player is necessary for the position to be maximized.
The typical hard-nosed fullback is all about power. Downhill running, and high-speed collisions from blocking. In New Orleans, however, a certain level of finesse is also required.
New Orleans asks a lot of its fullbacks and that’s why the recent signing of former Carolina Panther Alex Armah makes sense.
The Saints and Armah reached a deal reported on Tuesday after they looked to finish their ascent from a $100M+ hole in the salary cap. The contract details have not yet been released, but presently Over The Cap has the deal as an estimated veteran minimum contract.
At 6’2” and 225 pounds, Armah does pack quite the punch. He has 21 career rushes and while a handful of them have gone for no gain, he’s never lost a yard as a rusher since being drafted in 2017. Of those 21 carries, nine went for first downs. All nine of those conversions were gained throughout 13 rushes on downs with three or fewer yards to gain.
But his rushing for tough yardage is only part of the story of Alex Armah. There is also his ability to line up all over the field. Running a 4.7 40 doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re a 255 pound fullback, there’s a level of athleticism you can assume. Coming into the NFL, Armah scored an elite Relative Athletic Score of 8.52.
Armah can also catch out of the backfield, block in both pass protection and run game (86 and 64 PFF grades respectively), and has over 850 snaps of special teams experience on both kick return and coverage units as well as the punt return and coverage units.
In addition to size and versatility at the FB position, Alex Armah brings lots of Special Teams experience to New Orleans with him.— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) March 17, 2021
He has had 855 ST reps across kick returns, kickoff coverage, punt returns, and punt coverage over his 4 seasons in Carolina. pic.twitter.com/62YK2Z76KW
Versatility is a much for this position and the former Panther absolutely meets the requirement. Armah has lined up throughout his career in the backfield, inline, slot, and out wide according to PFF.
At only 26 years old, Armah also has the time to continue to grow and develop. If his deal is for more than one year, you can easily assume the Saints are planning on him to be their starter. But if his deal is only a one-year contract, don’t be surprised to see some competition in camp. New Orleans did carry two fullbacks into camp last year. Certainly wouldn’t rule out another shot for Michael Burton if that turns out to be the case.
In any case, Armah has a unique opportunity to be with a team that deploys fullbacks in so many different parts of the offensive scheme. As rushers, blockers, pass-catchers, decoys, and more. Adding some additional athleticism to the position could yield some interesting dividends for an evolving offense in 2021.
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