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NFL Draft Q&A: Underdog Dynasty on fifth-round running back Ryquell Armstead

NCAA Football: Temple at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars begin rookie minicamp today, which runs through the entire weekend. So, this sounds like a perfect time to get to know one of those rookies a little bit better through our post-draft Q&A series.

Today we are discussing Temple running back Ryquell Armstead. Armstead was taken in the fifth round by the Jaguars at No. 140 overall. He has a shot for some immediate playing time behind Leonard Fournette, who Armstead resembles as a runner.

To get some more insights into the former Owls tailback, I spoke with Joe Serpico, who covers Temple athletics for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty.

Here is what he had to say:

1. What should Jags fans know about Ryquell Armstead: strengths, weaknesses, fun facts, work ethic, competitiveness, etc.?

Joe: Armstead is a downhill runner that is not afraid of contact. He seeks out contact with would-be tacklers, delivering punishing blows to defenders. A one-cut runner that hits the hole hard. That also comes back to haunt him at times as he can crash into his protection that hasn’t had the time to set up blocks. His biggest weakness is in the passing game.

If there is one thing you can count on from players from Temple, it’s a relentless work ethic. There is a reason why the Owls are the only Group of 5 program in the nation to have multiple players drafted each of the past four years. Armstead fits that mold. The coaching staff loved his motor so much, they gave him a handful of snaps as a pass-rushing defensive end. And for your fun stat, he became only the third player in college football history to record a sack AND rush for over 100 yards when he did so against Tulsa this season.

2. One of the things the Jacksonville backfield was in need of a was a third-down back to fill the role of T.J. Yeldon. The selection of Armstead was somewhat surprising as he is more similar to Leonard Fournette as a physical runner. He was a minimal factor as a receiver (never caught more than 14 balls in a season). Although the production wasn’t there, has Armstead the flashed the ability as a pass-catcher, and how is he as a pass-protector?

Joe: I was stunned by this selection as well for the reasons you mentioned. Armstead and Fournette do have similar running styles —“violent” is the word Armstead used to describe his style of play leading up to the draft — so it was surprising to me that Armstead was the choice for Jacksonville. The biggest question mark surrounding Armstead is whether or not he can contribute in the passing game. Temple rarely used their running backs out of the backfield and he was not asked to do much in pass protection either. The Jags must have saw something in workouts that eased their concerns.

3. Armstead is known to run people over between the tackles, but also has underrated speed with a 4.45-second forty-yard dash time (second fastest running back at the Combine). Is he just as big of a threat to beat you on the edge with speed as he is to truck somebody? It seems like he can beat defenders in multiple ways.

Joe: His 40 time honestly shocked me because when you watch Armstead, he never seemed like he had that game-changing speed. He was more of a move-the-chains back as opposed to a home-run hitter. He is more of a north-south runner than a runner on the edge, and as I stated previously, he tends to hit the hole too early, which prevents him from making bigger plays.

4. In addition to the backs already on the roster, the Jaguars signed a plethora of tailbacks this offseason including Alfred Blue, Thomas Rawls and Benny Cunningham. Do you think Armstead can not only make the final 53-man roster, but also work his way into the running back rotation and make an impact? Why or why not?

Joe: It will all come down to whether or not he can contribute in the passing game. None of the aforementioned running backs really excel in that part of the game, and let’s face it, all three have been NFL journeymen that the Jaguars have no real commitment to. Armstead gets a more extended look because he is a rookie and makes the roster.

5. Armstead also seems to have a way of finding the end zone. He scored 34 career rushing touchdowns with the Owls, including 13 as a senior and 14 as a sophomore. Although Fournette is the starter and is a capable short-yardage back, could you see Armstead becoming Jacksonville’s goal line back? Why or why not?

Joe: Armstead certainly has a knack for finding the end zone, and if it weren’t for some nagging injuries his junior and senior seasons, those numbers could have been much better. I expected a team to take a flier on Armstead to use in short-yardage situations, but again, not the Jags with Fournette already in the mix. I expected a team like the New Orleans Saints (to pair with Alvin Kamara) or the Chicago Bears (to go alongside Tarik Cohen) to be the ideal scenarios for Armstead. We all know that Tom Coughlin wasn’t too thrilled with Fournette at times last season so it could be possible that Armstead is the heir to the running game should the front office get fed up with the former first-round pick once again.

Shout out to Joe for providing his thoughts and insights on Armstead. It sounds like the Jaguars may have gotten a solid player in the fifth round. Follow Joe on Twitter, and for all things non-Power 5 schools, be sure to follow Underdog Dynasty as well.

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