Arik Armstead was the San Francisco 49ers first round pick in the 2015 NFL draft and labeled as raw, a project. Yet, he ended up working out pretty well for his rookie season. Armstead still has some consistency issues to work on, but on the whole, he's showed a lot of reason as to why the 49ers took him when they did against criticisms on his raw ability (this writer included).
One year later and Armstead's former teammate at Oregon, DeForest Buckner is going through his own draft process. He spoke with the media on Friday, and said he's been consulting with the 49ers first round pick:
"Me and Arik, we've been talking a lot lately. He's back at Exos, where he trained at last year. He was just giving me some tips on what to look for when I get here. And at the next level - what I should look forward to."
He was asked asked about potentially reuniting with his former Oregon teammate:
"We talk about it all the time, being reunited. Just taking the lead together it would be a crazy experience, being able to play with him again and having our old coaching staff."
Buckner also commented on what separated his game from Armstead:
"In ways, they're similar. But also, at times, they're different. Arik is a big power guy, he likes to use his power all the time, but sometimes, I like to use a little shake and bake sometimes. I can't use my power all the time, so I like to try to get around and beat the offensive linemen. I feel like I'm more athletic than them."
Buckner is projected to be a 1st round pick, but for entirely different reasons than Armstead. Armstead was touted for his immense ceiling. So immense, his shortcomings were urged to be overlooked in favor of what he could become. Draft analysts were not afraid to mention how Armstead had a long road of development ahead of him. For someone projected to go in the 1st round, this is rather odd, but that's how high Armstead's ceiling was. He was worth burning the pick even if he was a risk.
Buckner is someone organizations will hope to be ready to go by Week 1. A potential pick that can make life difficult for offenses in a hurry. Whether that pans out or not is yet to be seen, but you can bet that coaching staffs have different expectations in place for Buckner as opposed to Armstead. While a generalization of what an NFL sideline is probably what Armstead was talking about, anything deeper than that could yield a surprise for as the entire situation is different.
If you want to look deeper as to if Buckner would be drafted by the 49ers, Buckner has had experience in a Chip Kelly-type offense and knows the conditioning involved for a defense. Unfortunately, while Armstead can give him a few pointers on what to expect, Buckner is coming into a completely different situation (and probably different coaching staff). As he said in his interview: he has a different technique and a different mindset.
It will be interesting to see just how much of Arik Armstead's unique situation translates to Buckner's standard situation.There is a good question to be asked: If you get those two together, will we see another crazy defense like when they were at Oregon?