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Small-school tackle Armstead rising on draft boards, could interest Ravens

INDIANAPOLIS - His showing at the NFL Scouting Combine obviously helps, but buzz was building about Arkansas-Pine Bluff left tackle Terron Armstead even before this past weekend.

His athleticism and ability as a pass protector stuck out at the East-West Shrine Game in January. He held up well as a late addition to the Senior Bowl. And now, with his performance at the combine, Armstead has further solidified himself as an intriguing second- or third-round option for teams in search of a left tackle during the NFL draft in late April, a list that will likely include the Baltimore Ravens.

"For Armstead, it's all about the process," said Mike Mayock, an NFL draft analyst for the NFL Network. "It's less about running 4.71 [in the 40-yard dash] and more about having a real good week at the East-West game, which he did. He's got a lot of upside. He's raw as can be, and that's why you're not going to run up and say you're taking him in the first round - he's very, very raw - but I think he's got the skill set to be a starting left tackle."

And Armstead could have even greater value based on the shortage of players in this year's draft who project to have the skills to be a starting left tackle in the NFL once Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) and Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) come off the board.

Joeckel, Fisher and Johnson are all expected to be selected early in the first round.

Armstead was a three-time All-SWAC performer at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and his showing at the East-West Shrine Game had some analysts comparing his skill set to that of Pro Bowl Houston Texans left tackle Duane Brown.

At the combine, Armstead, at 6-foot-5, 306 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in a stunningly fast time of 4.71 seconds, the fastest time ever for an offensive lineman at the combine, and he also did 31 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, which tied for eighth-best among offensive linemen at this year's event. He also impressed in positional drills.

"He helped himself incredibly. That's huge," said former Ravens executive Phil Savage, currently the executive director of the Senior Bowl.

But where does Armstead end up in the draft?

He's still considered a work in progress, but his upside could lead a team, possibly even the Ravens, to select him as early as the second round.

"I think second round is a good range for him because you're talking about a kid with upside and that kind of athleticism," said Dane Brugler, an NFL draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com. "Now, he still has some room to grow, still has to get stronger, still has to do a better job with his technique, especially with his hands, getting extended at the point of attack. He still has room to improve, but you can't teach that type of athleticism."

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