True junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. is going to be generating a lot of steam this season. As a draft eligible pass rusher, Armstrong illustrates many of the desirable traits football scouts are hoping to find in their pass rushers. As a sophomore, Armstrong was able to product 10.0 sacks and 20.0 tackles for loss in the Big 12 Conference, where defense is often something of an afterthought.
And while the Kansas Jayhawks defensive unit yielded over 37 points per game, Armstrong was not to blame.
Football can be hard to scout at times, as the lines can get blurred between positive individual execution and the end result of the play. A touchdown pass can be a bad decision or a poor throw, even if the receiver makes a play and the team benefits from the result.
Armstrong’s game at Kansas will likely suffer from some of this “contextual scouting”. In watching the Jayhawks’ 2016 contest against Oklahoma, one play in particular stood out with this in mind.
Punch, press, collapse. Moves Baker off his spot. pic.twitter.com/mWhQpV4wGl
— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) August 26, 2017
This play ends as a completed pass and a first down for the Sooners. Baker Mayfield wasn’t even touched on the play. But Dorance Armstrong has a great rep against Bobby Evans, a play that showcases a number of next level skills and traits.
The back end angle can be difficult to give perspective on release off the line. But check out how quickly Armstrong forces Evans to hinge and get perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. Due to the protection scheme, Armstrong has a number of options to attack this rush but his up field release lends itself well to how he attacks the rest of the play.
When Armstrong plans his palms into the chest of his blocker, note how quickly the pad level rises and how effective Armstrong is locking out his arms. That upper body power and length raises eyebrows, as there’s very little a blocker can do once his blocking stature is compromised to this extent. Armstrong’s stack of the blocker prevents Evans from countering with any usage of his hands.
Speed to Power
Pressing through contact and capitalizing on that initial explosiveness results in Armstrong walking his blocker back into Mayfield’s vicinity. Yes, Baker is able to work away from the pressure and get the ball out clean, but who could possibly call that rep a “win” for Evans?
Look for more of this work from Armstrong in 2017. With more splash plays, it won’t really matter that he’s on a low profile school. NFL scouts and Draft media are going to gravitate towards a twitchy, long, explosive pass rusher. The sack totals were great as a sophomore, but even if he doesn’t equal those numbers this year, know that there’s more context in the individual effort than there is in the play result.