6’4, 246 pounds
Projection: Round 1-3
Armstrong is one of the most athletic players in this draft class. His arms drop down to his knees, and he has the speed, quickness, agility, and acceleration to cause problems at the next level. As a speed rusher, he may be the best in the draft. Armstrong routinely beats tackles off of the edge and uses his excellent bend to turn the corner and sack the quarterback. He dominated the field in 2016, with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. His lower body strength is very good. The true junior is known as a pure pass rusher but improved his run stopping ability dramatically in 2017. He has experience playing against high powered, pro-style offenses, being in the Big 12. Armstrong will likely have an excellent combine, shooting him up draft boards.
Armstrong is over-reliant on his athleticism as a pass rusher. The bull rush isn’t that effective, as many teams prepare for speed rushers. Armstrong is far too one dimensional right now. He could use another pass rush move like a spin or a swim to beat tackles on the inside. When Armstrong did go inside, good things happen, but it didn’t happen often. His lack of upper body strength hurts him at the point of attack, where he occasionally struggles to disengage from blocks. Armstrong is a bit undersized to play 4-3 defensive end. Although he stopped the run well in 2017, it will be an issue at the next level against bigger and stronger linemen and backs. Armstrong’s pass rushing took a dip in 2017 to a measly two sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.
Armstrong doesn’t fit perfectly in the Colts’ new defensive scheme. Right now his best fit is as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but with a bit of development, will be a fine 4-3 defensive end. He will need to improve his run stopping ability to be an every-down player. Early in his career, Armstrong could be a lethal situational pass rusher for the Colts. Despite the success of Jabaal Sheard in 2017, the Colts still lack a pure pass rush specialist. Armstrong would benefit greatly from working with Robert Mathis, who will surely teach him a deadly spin move. The Colts may have to trade up into the late first round to nab Armstrong, but it would be a worthwhile investment.
Right now, Armstrong likely does not get much playing time as a three-down lineman in the NFL due to his limited versatility. But, I expect that by the time he gets on an NFL roster, it is likely that he will have reached that level already. Armstrong projects to run a sub 4.7 40 at the combine, along with great broad jump and three-cone drills. By as early as his second or third season, I could see Armstrong being one of the top pass rushers in the NFL.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_ and @FPC_Colts.