Every NFL Draft has its players who are expected to hear their names called early by league commissioner Roger Goodell. There are also players, however, who may be described by draft analysts as wildcards, based upon their high ceiling of physical potential while questions exist as to how each will respond to challenges at the next level.
Oregon's defensive end Arik Armstead is one of those players, according to ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who expects Armstead will be available for the Falcons to pick with their No. 8-overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.
"Armstead is a potential star if he lives up to his physical potential," Kiper said. "At nearly 6-foot-8 and 290 pounds, he doesn't just offer exceptional quickness for his size, he's also a powerful edge player, who can simply move people backwards when he's playing with leverage and is going to disrupt passing lanes with his length."
NFL general managers and coaches weigh a wide variety of factors when considering pro prospects, including how the player will adjust to the speed of the game and the professionalism required to succeed in the league. Perspective is easy for Armstead, whose last collegiate game happened to be on the biggest stage possible, the National Championship.
Despite falling to the Buckeyes, 42-20, Armstead's effort drew the attention of many, finishing the contest with nine tackles and one fumble recovery. Armstead showed versatility, playing basketball for the Ducks in his freshman season before focusing strictly on football the rest of the way.
In three seasons with the Ducks, Armstead finished with 42 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.
"After three years preparing with my teammates and coaches, I feel I'm ready to test myself at the next level," Armstead said in January.
"All the support I've received from Coach (Don) Pellum and Coach (Ron) Aiken, the rest of the Oregon coaches and staff and in my academics has prepared me to make this jump."