Terron Armstead will compete for Saints starting LT spot


Could the rookie third-round pick protect the blindside for Drew Brees in 2013?

The New Orleans Saints filled a big need when they drafted offensive tackle Terron Armstead from Arkansas Pine-Bluff with the 75th overall pick in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Armstead was drafted with the blindside of quarterback Drew Brees in mind and, according to Saints general manager Mickey Loomis (via NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan) on Tuesday, he will have the chance to step in and help immediately.

Loomis's statement on the left tackle spot -- "There's a competition there" -- comes after the team lost tackle Jermon Bushrod to the Chicago Bears in free agency this offseason. Bushrod served as the Saints' left tackle for the previous three seasons.

Enter Armstead, who will be competing for the position with Charles Brown and Jason Smith. In a report by Duncan for NOLA.com Tuesday, he notes that New Orleans hasn't started a rookie at left tackle since 1978, which is also the only time they did it in the franchise's history.

The 6'5, 306-pounder ran a blistering 4.71-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the fastest of any offensive lineman in this year's draft class and the best, according to NFL.com, for an offensive lineman dating back to 2006. He also posted a 34.5-inch vertical leap -- the second-highest for an offensive lineman in the last four years.

Clearly, he's got the athleticism you'd want in a left tackle. Especially when your quarterback is Brees and especially against the pass-rushing forces inhabiting today's NFL. Armstead was drafted by the Saints in the third-round, their second overall pick in the draft, for a reason. Whether or not it's just to spice up the race for the starting nod, we'll see, but it appears that if Armstead can earn it, simply being a rookie won't keep him out of the starting lineup in Week 1.

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