Former Temple Football standout fine tunes skills before NFL draft

Ryquell Armstead wanted to prove to NFL scouts that he is an all-around skilled player.

Philadelphia Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley instructs former Temple running back Ryquell Armstead at Temple’s Pro Day on Monday at the Student Training and Recreation Complex. | MICHAEL ZINGRONE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

NFL scouts often ask Ryquell Armstead: “Can you catch the ball?” 

At Temple’s Pro Day on Monday with more than 60 scouts in attendance, the Owls’ former running back wanted to prove himself as a complete running back.

He showed them he can produce on the field as a rusher, finishing his Temple University career in 2018 fourth all-time in rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns and following it with a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

But scouts are often hesitant of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield because he wasn’t utilized as a receiver at Temple, Armstead said. 

Despite having an effective career as the Owls’ running back, Armstead has not been a highly regarded prospect for next month’s NFL Draft. Armstead is the 21st-best running back prospect, according to CBS Sports. 

Armstead looked to improve his draft stock with a strong performance at Pro Day on Monday.

He emphasized pass-catching drills to impress scouts on Monday. He didn’t drop a single pass while running a variety of routes. On one play, Armstead made a difficult running catch on an underthrown pass deep down the field.

In four seasons at Temple, Armstead ran for 2,812 yards and scored 34 rushing touchdowns. But he only had 29 career receptions in 47 games at Temple. 

On Monday, Philadelphia Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley worked with Armstead and former Temple fullbacks Rob Ritrovato and Nick Sharga. Staley and Armstead talked individually before the drills started. 

Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas and another Eagles representative talked to Armstead following the conclusion of the running back drills. 

Armstead, who is from Millville, New Jersey, said he is aware of the Eagles’ tendency to sign young running backs from the Philadelphia region. During the past two offseasons, the Eagles signed Glassboro, New Jersey, native Corey Clement and Warrington, Pennsylvania, native Josh Adams. 

“[Staley] is a great coach, I love what he was saying to me,” Armstead said. “Small details and what really matters. All in all, I feel like I had a good day, I feel like he likes me. It was great working out with the Eagles.” 

Armstead has a “workout” with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, he said.

Armstead skipped the 40-yard dash, broad jump or bench press on Monday because he tested in them at the NFL combine on March 1. Armstead ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, the second-fastest time of any running back at the combine. 

Armstead said he prepares for Temple’s Pro Day the same way he preps for bigger events like the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, at which hundreds of NFL representatives are scouting athletes.

“The combine and senior bowl were bigger than this but prep doesn’t change, it’s like I said you have to have confidence in yourself,” Armstead said. “Confidence will take you a long way.”

Armstead hopes to be the first Temple running back drafted since Bernard Pierce in 2012. With the NFL Draft about five weeks away, Armstead will continue to condition and work out for teams, hoping to hear his name during the three-day draft, which starts on April 25.

“I am very confident catching the ball, running drills,” he added. “So they asked me to do what I do, that’s my abilities and showcase what I have.”

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