Vanderdoes, Armstead have to prove it

Last week ESPN Insider Travis Haney brought out his top 10 offensive players who have to “prove it” on a national level. Among his listed players were Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. You can see the Pac-12 blog’s take here.

Now he turns his attention to defenseInsider, where he lists a pair of Pac-12 players -- both on the defensive line. First up is Oregon’s Arik Armstead.

Writes Haney:

Armstead started five games a year ago, ending up with 13 tackles. He has not hit his ceiling on the defensive line, but there will be more opportunity with veteran Taylor Hart gone. Whether it’s on offense or defense, the coaching staff figures to find a way to make Armstead an impact player.

The Pac-12 blog has long been a believer that Armstead would be a monster at offensive tackle. In fact, my co-writer was just mentioning this a couple of months ago. Here’s an excerpt from a Ted Miller mailbag back in December:

Armstead is a potential NFL All-Pro at left offensive tackle, based on his skill set, and a CFL player on the D-line, based on his performance as defensive end/tackle thus far. I personally think he is leaving millions of dollars on the table by playing defense. In fact, if he were my son, I would relentlessly hound him to make the switch.

Haney also lists UCLA defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes as a “prove it” guy in 2014.

Per Haney:

When I visited Bruins camp in August, the staff noted that Vanderdoes was talented, but learning. The freshman’s ability was on display when he had 11 of his 39 tackles in the Oct. 19 game at Stanford. Once he "gets it," those sorts of games might become more commonplace.

Vanderdoes arrived on campus with a lot of hoopla following his fallout with Notre Dame. As a freshman he had 4.5 tackles for a loss and half a sack to go with his aforementioned 39 tackles.

One thing Haney failed to mention: Vanderdoes makes one heck of an offensive player (one rush, one yard, one touchdown; one reception, 18 yards). We know that the Bruins coaching staff likes to tinker with defensive players on offense. Myles Jack, of course, but Cassius Marsh, Jordan Zumwalt and Vanderdoes got into the mix as well. That just goes to show what a heck of an all-around athlete Vanderdoes is for his size.