Arik Armstead has been the common name associated with the San Francisco 49ers among those who wrote mock drafts. It became a reality when he was selected 17th overall at the 2015 NFL Draft.
He explained that his role with the Oregon Ducks was not about sacks, but being a force on the defensive line.
“My role was to be disruptive, take on blockers, free up guys at times,” Armstead said in a conference call with the media. “My role was to do whatever my coaches asked of me. I played my position well. I felt like I did what my coaches asked of me. I put my health on the line, playing for them injured. I did whatever they asked me to do on the football field.”
Armstead is 6-7 and 292 pounds, where he is expected to be a physical dominance for the 49ers in the future. In three seasons with Oregon, he only had four total sacks combined.
He said his best role won’t be on every down for the short term, but he thinks he can specialize in pass rushing on obvious passing downs.
“I think I’m definitely a nickel pass rusher, rushing inside over guards and centers,” Armstead said. “I did that at Oregon in our nickel packages. I have the athleticism and length to do that, and I’m looking forward to doing that more and getting after the quarterback more.”
Armstead was also basketball player at Oregon until the end of his sophomore year, where he took his focus to football by his junior year. He started in every game for the Ducks in 2014 and battled an ankle injury through the season.
While he didn’t have the same production statistically, he is confident in his abilities. He took note of his own scouting reports from experts, disagreeing with the assessment of being not ready for the NFL immediately.
“We ran a similar scheme up at Oregon, a 3-4 scheme,” Armstead said. “I think my skillset in the 3-4 is perfect. I picked up the defense really easy when I learned it. And I feel like I have the skillset and athleticism to play the end position in their defense.”
Armstead will be coached under Jim Tomsula, who was previously the 49ers defensive line coach and is now the head coach. With Tomsula having a player he can develop, it will be an uphill battle for him to play immediately in 2015.
He joins a mix of linemen including Darnell Dockett, Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial and Tony Jerod-Eddie. The 49ers also drafted Kaleb Ramsey in the seventh round of the 2014 draft.
The 49ers are expecting Justin Smith to retire after 14 seasons in the NFL. General manager Trent Baalke said the plans for the draft were already decided whether Smith chooses to retire or not.