The No. 1 ranked player on Pro Football Focus' best player available free agent list is now off the board. Three-time Pro Bowl selection Terron Armstead has signed with Miami, giving the Dolphins PFF's top-ranked free agent tackle less than a week after adding the third-ranked guard (No. 31 overall) in Connor Williams.
Here are five things to know about Terron Armstead, Miami's massive addition to one of the bookend positions:
1. One of the NFL's Best Since 2013
Over his entire nine-year career, Armstead was charged with just 143 pressures and 24 sacks allowed on 3,829 pass-blocking snaps. The 3.7 percent pressure rate and 0.6 percent sack rate are both best among all NFL tackles between 2013-21.
During that decade, only Cleveland's Joe Thomas and Andrew Whitworth of the Rams and Bengals surrendered pressure at a lower rate than the 4.1 percent granted by Armstead. The aforementioned pressure number -- ranking third among tackles in the decade of the 2010's -- has been reduced by 0.4 percent over the last two seasons.
Stating 93 of his 97 career games played, Armstead has been a stalwart on a New Orleans line that has produced division titles, deep playoff runs and numerous top-five offensive attacks. The Saints finished no worse than fifth in points scored between 2016-20. Over that span, Armstead anchored the left edge for 56 games while surrendering just 76 quarterback pressures (Pro Football Focus), giving him a rate of 1.36 pressures-allowed per game, the best among all NFL tackles.
After playing on an offense that finished top three in passing each of his first four years, Armstead also blocked for three top-six rushing offenses over the last five years.
2. Makes Everyone Better
"PhD level tackle player here." - Brandon Thorn
That's how Thorn describes Armstead's abilities; abilities that serve dual-functionality. Not only does Armstead's mastery make him one of the NFL's sturdiest linemen but it has a ripple effect and an augmenting impact on his teammates.
Armstead can ease the load of the guard next to him and take pressure off the opposite side of the line, as seen in the latter clip posted by another legend in the offensive line community, Duke Manyweather.
The ability to slide protection, isolate Armstead, and STILL count on him to pick up a backside overload blitz, that's where the PhD comparison comes from.
Just ask the guards who have played with Armstead. Jahri Evans made back-to-back Pro Bowls in Armstead's first two seasons. To be fair, Evans was already a four-time Pro Bowler prior to Armstead's arrival, but then the Saints needed a replacement when Evans hung up his cleats.
Enter Larry Warford, who didn't make a Pro Bowl his first four years in the league, each with the Detroit Lions. Then, for three straight years in New Orleans (2017-19), Warford never missed the all-star game.
In the second year of Warford's tenure, New Orleans' other guard (Andrus Peat) became the next man-in-the-middle to earn a Pro Bowl nod in three consecutive seasons from 2018-20.
Finally, the other bookend -- Ryan Ramczyk -- wasn't a Pro Bowl selection in his sophomore season, but he was voted to the AP All-Pro Second Team. Armstead and Ramczyk combined for the fewest pressures allowed per pass-blocking reps of any tackle tandem in 2018.
3. An Athletic Phenom Masters the Craft
Elite physical traits will always get a player's foot in the door. Perhaps it was that skillset that got Armstead on the NFL's radar. His 4.71 40-yard dash time at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine remains the fastest time ever recorded by a tackle.
The entirety of Armstead's workout put him in rarified air from a physical standpoint. His Relative Athletic Score of 9.58 ranks 22nd all-time out of more than 1,700 offensive tackles.
Those movement skills make him a match made in heaven for a zone scheme that asks the big fella to get out in space and inflict his will out on the edges and downfield.
Armstead pairs those eye-popping physical traits with a true mastery of the game. His ability to mix-up his sets and the punches he throws in pass pro can derail even the best rushers. He has a way of drawing out the opposition's move early, which gives Armstead the advantage, even if it puts him at a momentary disadvantage. His ability to mix up his sets and shorten angles is achievable without consequence because of the balance and smooth weight transfer to get back into position and recover.
Watching Armstead's consistent hand placement is like watching a great solo mountain climber. The hands engage, click in place and it's on to the next rep. His grip strength is arguably the best in the game.
4. Man of the Year
Armstead not only does great work on the field but off of it as well. In 2019, he was named the New Orleans Saints' nominee for the most prestigious award in the NFL, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. The award annually recognizes a player's excellence both in the community and on the field.
"One of the best things about playing in the National Football League is that it has given me the ability and opportunity to be a role model to young people and to give back to the community," Armstead said back in 2019. "If there is anything that I can do to make someone's life better and to help them aspire to do more with their lives, I'm committed to doing it."
Armstead was heavily involved in the community both in New Orleans and his hometown of Cahokia, Illinois, just east of St. Louis. The Terron Armstead Foundation's mission is to be a reliable, effective resource for individuals and communities, by using education and real-life practices to become successful and help others.
He and his foundation have awarded thousands of dollars in college scholarships to high school student-athletes and have co-sponsored or participated in numerous events to give back to both communities.
Armstead purchased a 40,000 square foot building in Cahokia and is renovating the building to become a community center with areas of academics, athletics and providing social services.
5. Mentorship and Advocacy for Historically Black Colleges and University
"I dedicate a lot of my success and my make-up of who I've become as a man and as a player to my experience at Arkansas Pine-Bluff, being that HBCU player and kind of that 'get it out the mud' mentality," Armstead said. "So, coming to the NFL, just having that chip on my shoulder of being a small-school guy."
Armstead caught up with NFL Network's Cam Wolfe to talk about the way Arkansas Pine-Bluff shaped him, but also about being one of the primary mentors at the HBCU Legacy Bowl.
"I sat with a large amount of the players yesterday for about an hour and a half and we talked finances, we talked career, we talked everything," Armstead said. "It was great. Those guys were so locked in. I think they clenched to every word. It was an amazing time."
Armstead joins a Miami O-line room with an average age of 24.6-years-old. In addition to his on-field performance, the wealth of wisdom Armstead has to offer to a young line -- a line which started five players who were third-year guys or younger in the season-finale victory over New England -- is unquantifiable.
Whether with NFL teammates or mentoring college players looking to follow his career path, the book on Armstead's character is untarnished.
"Terron Armstead exemplifies everything that is great about HBCUs. We thank him for his generous support and commitment." - Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams
Coming soon to the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, Terron Armstead will join the show to talk about his what attracted him to Miami, reuniting with Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Frank Smith, playing with Tua Tagovailoa and a lot more! Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
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