Who is Armond Armstead, and Why Are NFL Teams Hot on His Heels?

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystJanuary 16, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 11:  Defensive tackle Armond Armstead #94 of the USC Trojans waits for play against the Arizona State Sun Devils on October 10, 2008 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  usc WON 28-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

With only four teams still alive in the 2013 NFL playoffs, for many teams the offseason process has already begun, which means getting ready for the madness of free agency and this year's NFL draft.

As teams do so a wild card of sorts has entered the picture, and that player from the frigid wastes of the Canadian Football League is generating interest from a number of NFL teams.

Toronto Argonauts defensive tackle Armond Armstead, who ESPN's Adam Schefter calls the equivalent of a "high draft pick," has already visited with the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts and may visit with more teams before deciding where to sign. His decision is supposed to be made this week.

The 22-year-old Armstead, who was a CFL All-Star in his one year in Toronto, racked up six sacks in helping to lead the Argonauts in the Grey Cup in 2012.

Prior to that Armstead played at USC for three years, racking up 43 tackles and three sacks as a junior. Headed into the 2011 campaign, there were high hopes for both Armstead's senior year in Los Angeles and his prospects for the NFL.

Things didn't go as planned though. The 6'5", 300-pound Armstead experienced chest pains during training in February 2011 and was not cleared by USC to play at all that season. The incident led to a 2012 lawsuit by Armstead against the university in which Armstead alleges that mandatory injections of the controversial painkiller Toradol caused a heart attack, according to a report by Pedro Moura of ESPN.

Armstead has since been fully cleared by doctors, and after considering transferring, Armstead chose to enter the 2012 NFL draft but was not selected, paving the way for his one-year stint in Toronto.

Now Armstead is set to take another shot at plying his trade in the NFL, and given the success that NFL teams have recently had with CFL transplants such as linebacker Jerrell Freeman and defensive end Cameron Wake, the youngster will have no shortage of suitors.

Those suitors, as we mentioned, include the Colts, who hit pay dirt with Freeman a year ago and have needs up and down the defensive front. After Armstead's recent visit to Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson came away impressed, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.

"He was here on a visit, he's a talented guy, I feel he fits this defense nice and had some versatility with this defense," Grigson said.

However, with at least two other teams already having hosted Armstead, it appears that Grigson and Schefter are far from alone in their esteem for the youngster, and the ability to acquire a potential impact player without spending a draft pick to do it will no doubt appeal to a number of clubs.

It's there where the silver lining for Armond Armstead lies. Granted, his road to the National Football League certainly didn't take the route he thought it would, but at least he gets to pick his landing spot once he gets there.