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SmashMouth 04-30-2013 12:30 PM

Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
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Left tackle is one of the few things the New Orleans Saints have gotten right over the years.

Even before Drew Brees and Sean Payton arrived, the Saints have manned the offense's second most important position with a standout blocker. It's largely been a position of strength for two decades.

http://imgick.nola.com/home/nola-med...107-mmmain.jpg

Dating to 1994, the Saints have started a Pro Bowl-caliber player at left tackle every season. The lone exceptions were 2003, 2004 and 2005 when veteran Wayne Gandy was signed to bridge the gap between Kyle Turley and Jammal Brown. Before them, Hall of Famer Willie Roaf had the job. For the last three years, it's been in the capable, powerful hands of Jermon Bushrod. That foursome combined to make 15 Pro Bowls and nine All-Pro teams.

The run ended when Bushrod signed with the Chicago Bears in March free agency. His departure left the Saints with a yawning hole on their left flank, a situation that Saints coach Sean Payton admitted in March made him lose sleep.

Rule No. 1 in Payton's offense is protect Brees. It all starts there. The security Bushrod and Brown provided to Brees has been one of the least appreciated factors behind the offense's unprecedented prolificacy.

Everyone just assumes the touchdowns and yards will continue to rain this season. But they won't if left tackle becomes a turnstile to the No. 9 train.

That's why Terron Armstead is the most intriguing player in the Saints' five-man draft class.

Would the Saints be willing to risk Brees' blind side to a third-round draft pick from Arkansas-Pine Bluff?

The Saints have shown they aren't afraid of the baptism-by-fire ritual. In 2006 they thrust an unknown fourth-round pick from Division II Bloomsburg into the starting lineup. Since then, Jahri Evans has started 112 consecutive games and played in four Pro Bowls.

But left tackle is different than left guard. It's assigned to block the opponent's best pass rusher. The number of humans quick enough and strong enough to ward off the freakishly athletic men who play defensive end and outside linebacker in the NFL is short. That's why left tackles are compensated more lucratively than any position except quarterback.

The Saints have started a rookie left tackle only once. In 1978, J.T. Taylor started all 16 games after being drafted in the second round out of Missouri. Archie Manning was sacked 37 times that season, an unfortunate but also quite common consequence for Manning in those days.

Since then, the Saints have gone with veterans at the position. Even the greatest left tackle in club history, Willie Roaf, spent a season on training wheels at right tackle before being thrown to the pass-rushing wolves on the left side. Jammal Brown followed the same path despite being selected with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2005 draft.

So it'd be an upset if Armstead were able to beat out Charles Brown or Jason Smith for the starting job. But it could happen. If Brown and Smith were sure things, the Saints wouldn't have invested the 75th overall pick in a left tackle. Brown has been injury-prone. Smith, a former No. 2 overall draft pick, has been a bust.

Armstead played at a small school but he has big-time skills. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine. His time of 4.65 seconds is comparable to what most outside linebackers run, not 6-5, 306-pound linemen. His vertical leap of 34.5 inches was higher than that of Saints' fifth-round pick, wide receiver Kenny Stills. He also was a state champion shot putter at Cahokia, Ill., High School.

The jaw-dropping physical skills are reminiscent of another Saints tackle with Pine Bluff, Ark., connections. Roaf was a standout basketball player at Pine Bluff High School who famously could dunk from a standing position.


Willie Roaf became the second New Orleans Saint to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last August.
Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Armstead said he and Roaf have become acquainted in recent weeks. He said he's studied tape of Roaf dominating NFL defensive linemen and hopes to emulate the Hall of Famer's career, on and off the field.

"He's a great guy," Armstead said. "He's been watching me and has been steering me in the right direction, letting me know what to expect."

Armstead said Roaf texted him five minutes after his selection on Friday with a simple message: "Stay humble and hungry. It's time to go to work."

And that's exactly what Armstead is doing. He said Monday he knows he has a lot to learn and just wants the opportunity to compete for the starting spot. His first goal is to learn the playbook. Once he knows what he's doing, then he'll worry about his position on the depth chart.

"I have the confidence in myself that I can potentially be the starter," Armstead said. "... But I know I have a hill to climb."

Armstead watched the draft with family at his home in Cahokia. He said the fact that Steve Gleason announced his selection made the moment doubly exciting. He called it a "special memory" and said he looked forward to meeting the former Saints standout when he gets to New Orleans.

"That was amazing," Armstead said. "I didn't know his story but my dad Googled him and I read about him. I was honored to have him call my name."

Roaf and Gleason. Two Saints icons. Armstead hasn't played a down yet but he's already off to an impressive start in New Orleans.

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Crusader 04-30-2013 12:47 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
Good to hear Roaf reaching out to the young buck. If Armstead can be just half as good he'll do fine.

Shoe. 04-30-2013 12:51 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
Isn't JD on record as a Goodell supporter? Not sure I value his opinion as much anymore...

Danno 04-30-2013 12:56 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
I think this guy had the best measurables of all the OT's at the combine, and was projected to go in the 2nd as the 6th best OT in the draft.

I don't know much about the new O-line coach. I know he has a good reputation, but I think if Marrone or Kromer were still here I think this cat would be our opening day LT.

foreverfan 04-30-2013 01:26 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
http://www.adhurl.com/uploads/Freak.jpg

The Dude 04-30-2013 01:35 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
Left tackle is one of the few things the New Orleans Saints have gotten right over the years.

Well there was that Super Bowl thing
Signing Brees
Getting value out of late round picks i.e. Colston and UDFA Ivory and Thomas
Developing 3 pro bowl OT
Having a top 5 offense every year

But whose counting

Rugby Saint II 04-30-2013 01:38 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
Stay humble and hungry..............gotta' love it! :razz:

jcp026 04-30-2013 02:01 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
"Rule No. 1 in Payton's offense is protect Brees. It all starts there. The security Bushrod and Brown provided to Brees has been one of the least appreciated factors behind the offense's unprecedented prolificacy."

Charles Brown has started 8 games in 3 three seasons. Zach Strief has started 30 games since 2006 and 25 games over the past 3 seasons. Why is Strief being ignored? Strief was a steal in the 7th round and Brown has been a bit of a disappointment in the 2nd round. I hope Brown can stay healthy and get it together, but I just don't get it.

mutineer10 04-30-2013 02:13 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
It's not like the pass protection was dramatically impressive last season - with Bushrod and Strief - and Brees' turnovers showed it. I'm all for this kid, but I'm gonna keep my expectations reasonable.

|Mitch| 04-30-2013 02:26 PM

Re: Terron Armstead is the most intriguing and important rookie on the New Orleans Saints roster
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Danno (Post 499956)
I don't know much about the new O-line coach.

The "new" O-Line coach was the running backs coach when Kromer was the O-Line coach; It's not like he is coming in and gotta start from scratch...

In theory; we shouldn't miss a beat... In fact; Bret Ingalls has more coaching experience than Kromer ever thought about having


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