Notre Dame Jafar Armstrong

Notre Dame Jafar Armstrong

Ranking The Irish: #19 - RB Jafar Armstrong

A look at the potential impact that Notre Dame running back Jafar Armstrong could have in 2020
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The Top 25 players for Notre Dame in 2020 continues with a look at senior running back Jafar Armstrong.

This analysis for the Top 25 Irish players is a combination of talent, expected production, importance of that player’s role and also the value the player brings. The value aspect includes the position played and also the depth chart, meaning who can the Irish least afford to lose.

Let's look at why Armstrong needs to be a top player for Notre Dame:

MAKING THE CASE

Armstrong was the most difficult player to place in this rankings list. If he plays to his full potential and stays on the field he could be closer to the top 10. He could just as easily find himself passed up by younger players (Chris Tyree, Kyren Williams) and struggling to get on the field.

When he's right, Armstrong has the combination of size, athletic talent, running ability and pass game skills to be a big part of the Irish offense. That's exactly what he was through the first four games of the 2018 season, making plays in the run game and pass game.

Armstrong was just starting to find his groove (8 carries, 98 yards vs. Wake Forest) when he went down for three games with an infection in his knee. The next week Notre Dame got back Dexter Williams, and by the end of the season Armstrong was not much of a factor in the offense, losing reps to both Williams and Tony Jones Jr..

Armstrong came to Notre Dame as a wide receiver, and he hasn't lost his touch as a route runner, which gives the offense a lot of versatility when he's healthy and on the field. He can line up in the slot, out wide and can make plays in the throwing game coming out of the backfield.

He has built up his body over the last two seasons, and he is a physical runner when his timing is right. That combination makes him a highly effective running back. A healthy and locked in Armstrong gives the offense a dimension that no one else on the roster can provide.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

The biggest problem for Armstrong has been his inability to stay healthy. He missed three games in 2018 and was injured on the first series of the 2019 season, which knocked him out of the first next four games.

Armstrong was never the same player when he returned. His timing as a runner was way off, and he seemed to lose the ability to show the patience needed to thrive running the ball. 

The Lee's Summit, Mo. native looked too bulky last season, and the burst he showed in 2018 was a thing of the past. He looked stiff, top heavy and uncomfortable as both a runner and pass catcher.

If he wants to be a force on the offense in 2020 he must stay healthy and on the field, which sources have told me has already been a bit of an issue for him in fall camp. There is too much talent in the backfield for him to stay in the lineup if he can't stay on the practice field.

Notre Dame has enough talent to have a productive backfield without Armstrong, but if he's healthy, focused and on his game the backfield will certainly be better with him than without him.

Past Breakdowns:

#25 - Third Linebacker
#24 - Kurt Hinish, DT
#23 - Jonathan Doerer, PK
#22 - Lawrence Keys III, WR
#21 - Shaun Crawford, CB
#20 - TaRiq Bracy, CB

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The Top 25 players for Notre Dame in 2020 continues with a look at senior running back Jafar Armstrong.

This analysis for the Top 25 Irish players is a combination of talent, expected production, importance of that player’s role and also the value the player brings. The value aspect includes the position played and also the depth chart, meaning who can the Irish least afford to lose.

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