Months removed from a star-making performance at the 2019 NFL combine, ex-Temple Owls running back Ryquell Armstead is off to a slow start in Jacksonville.
As the Temple Owls prepare to build on the promising groundwork laid down in 2018 in a Week 1 bout against the Bucknell Bison, one of last year’s shining stars, Ryquell Armstead, is preparing for the next chapter of his football career: playing running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That’s right, after initially looking like a borderline pro prospect at best because of his presumed limited athleticism, Armstead built one heck of a case to be selected in the 2019 NFL Draft by running a blazing 4.45 40 yard dash at the Combine and performing quite well as a receiver out of the backfield.
This lead to an understandable bubble of excitement about Armstead’s prospects, with ex-NFL quarterback Chris Simms going so far as to label the ex-Owl his second favorite runningback in the entire draft, above players like Qadree Ollison, Darrell Henderson, and even Philly’s new favorite rusher Miles Sanders – that’s pretty high praise.
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Fast forward to Day 3 of the draft and Armstead was selected 140th overall by the Jaguars to serve as a change of pace option behind short-leashed former first-round starter Leonard Fournette.
However, Rock’s transition from American Athletic Conference star to NFL contributor has been anything but immediate.
Slotted in as the Jaguars’ third-string rusher behind Fournette and Texans transplant Alfred Blue, Armstead has been the team’s leading rusher in two of their first three preseason bouts, carrying the ball 16 times for 40 yards.
His longest run? A nine yarder against the Miami Dolphins.
No matter how you break those numbers down, it’s hard to find a whole lot to like from Armstead’s performances so far.
Now granted, Armstead’s case wasn’t made any easier after he suffered a concussion against the Baltimore Ravens that held him out of a Week 2 bout against his hometown(ish) Philadelphia Eagles, joining Nick Foles on the sideline for the entire evening, but his absence did open the door for Thomas Rawls to gain ground on the 22-year-old rookie and fight to earn snaps in the regular season.
While an underwhelming summer won’t prevent Armstead from making the Jaguars’ 53-man roster, it could certainly place a damper on his ability to walk in Week 1 and contribute offensively against the Kansas City Chiefs.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but after some theorized that Armstead would challenge Fournette for a starting spot as soon as this fall, it’s hard not to be a little less enthusiastic about Philadelphia’s second favorite team if the Temple transplant isn’t sharing the backfield with Foles.
But don’t get too down on Rock’s potential just yet.
With one more preseason game left to play and a ton of snaps up for grabs since virtually all of the team’s starters will be on the sideline, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Week 4 preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons could go a long way to figuring out Ryquell Armstead’s immediate future with the club a year removed from torching college defenses as a member of the Temple Owls.