If you want to take a twirl with Terron Armstead or Ryan Ramczyk, Armczyk as the tabloids are calling them, you’ll have to get your name on their dance card. They’re busy with minicamp and getting their names all over Pro Football Focus’ Twitter feed these days. The attraction is starting to draw some jealous side glances. The Falcons were so jelly that the drafted two offensive linemen in the 2019 NFL Draft just to try to keep up.
Armstead and/or Ramczyk have become the focus for a number of articles in the past year. Terron Armstead has been a known quantity for a longer period of time. The tackle was originally drafted by the Saints in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He turned a lot of heads at the NFL Scouting Combine that year by running a 4.71 40-yard dash, having a vertical jump of 34.5-inches and doing 31 reps of 225-pounds on the bench press. At 6-foot-4 and 305-pounds, he’s easily the most athletic offensive lineman the NFL has ever seen.
What’s getting the actual buzz going around these two, though, has been the arrival of Ryan Ramczyk. Ramczyk was selected with the 32nd overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He represents the pick the Saints got from the Brandin Cooks trade with New England.
Ramczyk got thrown into the fire right out of the gate when his predecessor, Zach Strief, went down with an injury at the beginning of the 2017 Season. Ironically, it was in a game against the Patriots. But Ramczyk manned up and got it done like a six-year Pro Bowler. That got him noticed and started a little buzz.
Perhaps anticipating a sophomore slump from Ramczyk, many waited to see what would happen to the duo in his second season. While Terron Armstead dealt with a shoulder injury that cost him four weeks, Ramczyk has yet to miss a snap.
For 2017-18, Terron Armstead has posted overall scores of 76.5 and 87.4 (subscription required for link). Ramczyk has put up an 81.2 and 81.3. But you get the feeling that something better than an 81.4 might be next on the agenda for the former Wisconsin Badger.
Pro Football Focus released an article on Sunday, Jun 10, discussing the big event up for Ryan Ramczyk in the not too distant future. The piece from Mark Chichester discusses what will happen when a good tackle comes up for his next contract in light of the money that is currently being paid to even mid-tier tackles in a market starved for them (see Oakland and Trent Brown).
Being a first-round pick, the Saints will be able to pick up a fifth-year option on Ramczyk in 2021 and then he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 barring an extension. So we’re looking ahead a little bit but it’s a valid point and reflective of bigger payroll concerns ahead for the Saints, especially with Tuesday’s new deal with defensive end Cameron Jordan.
Terron Armstead was the focus of another article last week from Pro Football Focus’ Mike Johnson. The piece, titled “The NFL’s balanced offensive linemen by PFF Grade from 2018” and released on Jun 7, calls out the best players in the NFL at each position across the offensive line who excel simultaneously at pass and run blocking. Terron Armstead was named the best in the game in that regard at left tackle, edging out the Rams’ Andrew Whitworth.
Putting a finer point on it, in another ranking from PFF for last season, “Top 25 offensive linemen of the 2018 NFL season” from Michael Renner, Armstead (89.4) came in at number one and Ramczyk (83.4) at number six.
It’s still not completely released but, “PFF50: The NFL’s 50 best players entering the 2019 season” already has Ramczyk in at number 45. That’s out of all position groups. As of the release of this article they were only up to number 21 and you can bet Armstead will be in the top 20.
The two will be getting a lot of attention this season even as the glare of the analysts’ spotlights will be on likely either Nick Easton or rookie Erik McCoy replacing Max Unger at center. With the left and right edges sealed, you can bet defensive coordinators on the Saints schedule in 2019 will be focusing on the center of that line as well.
You hate to throw this out there, it would be a bold move if not the wisest for the team’s future, but maybe if the Falcons draft three offensive linemen in the first round next year, they’ll get some coverage. I mean, they have to do something, don’t they? I’m baby?
Injuries have been a part of Terron Armstead’s story with the New Orleans Saints for so long that a few pockets of the fan base seem to have forgotten why the gifted left tackle is so important in the first place.
When Armstead was playing hurt, he was still one of the better left tackles in NFL.
But when he’s healthy, Armstead can be close to unbeatable. Feeling healthy for the first time since the opening weeks of the 2015 season, Armstead has swallowed rushers like Cleveland’s Myles Garrett and Tampa Bay’s Jason Pierre-Paul.
“We’ve been really impressed with the consistency of his play,” Saints offensive line coach Dan Roushar said. “We feel like he’s gone up against some very quality rushers very early, so he’s been tested.”
Armstead has passed with flying colors.
Garrett has 4½ sacks; Pierre-Paul has four. They are fifth and tied for sixth among NFL pass rushers this season.
Against the Saints, neither player could solve Armstead. Put together, the pairing combined for just one tackle and one quarterback hit in 113 snaps against the Saints — an indication of just how dominant Armstead has been. Four games into the season, Armstead has allowed just five pressures on the quarterback overall.
What’s scary is that Armstead says he could have been even better in the opening quarter of the season.
“I’ve done some things well,” Armstead said. “At this early part of (the) season, I’ve got some things that I’d definitely want to do better and will do better. I’ll put in the work to do better.”
Armstead is always trying to get better — but over the past couple of seasons, he’s been forced to spend almost as much time simply fighting to get on the field. Beset by hip, knee and chest injuries, Armstead played in 13 games in 2015, just seven in 2016 and 10 last year, starting the 2017 season late because of a torn labrum in his shoulder.
After all of that time away, Armstead is happy to be back.
“It’s been great just being out there with the guys, really,” Armstead said. “Suiting up with the guys every week, practice and games, talking, trying to problem-solve different things that come during a game.”
Focusing on football is hard to do when a player is trying to manage his pain.
At times, Armstead warmed up on the sidelines hours before the game, looking for all the world like a man who could barely move.
Then he’d come out and play every snap, gritting through the pain and compensating for his injury with every set in pass protection and every step out in the open field. For most of the past three years, Armstead has had problems with his left hip and knee, and he adjusted his set accordingly.
When he opened training camp healthy this year, Roushar had Armstead working hard on getting the left side of his body on the defender.
A technician who understands line play better than most and is constantly refining his technique, Armstead has absorbed the lessons and put them to use.
“Fundamentally, we feel like he’s been in really good position,” Roushar said. “He’s square; he’s been using his left side as well as his right side consistently; and in watching that, you can kind of go back and evaluate his performance, and he’s gotten edged a couple of times, but he’s been able to counter and finish. I think he’s done a heck of a job to date.”
New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead is reportedly expected to miss three-to-four weeks with a pectoral injury, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Armstead left Sunday’s 51-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium and was replaced by veteran Jermon Bushrod.
Bushrod is expected to start in Armstead’s place when the Saints host the Philadelphia Eagles at the Superdome on Sunday.
Injuries have been a major issue throughout Armstead’s NFL career, as he has yet to appear in more than 14 games in a single season.
He missed six games with a torn labrum last campaign and nine contests with knee and quad injuries in 2016.
The Saints selected Armstead in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and he became a full-time starter by 2014. Armstead has appeared in 59 regular-season games during his five-plus years in the NFL and made 55 starts. He has also started four playoff games.
The 34-year-old Bushrod is in the midst of his 12th NFL season and his first back with the Saints after a five-year hiatus. New Orleans selected the Towson product in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, and he went on to become a two-time Pro Bowler (2011-12) and one-time champion (Super Bowl XLIV).
From 2009 to 2012, Bushrod missed just one game and started all but two for the Saints. He spent the next three seasons with the Chicago Bears before playing for the Miami Dolphins in 2016 and 2017.
Bushrod is a veteran presence as a swing tackle, and he should be a quality blindside protector for quarterback Drew Brees until Armstead is able to return.
The Saints can afford to be cautious with Armstead since they have the second-best record in the NFC at 8-1 and lead the Carolina Panthers by two games for the NFC South lead.