When you look at Haley’s history of his running backs he’s loved the small receiver/running back tweeners. I will say I was a little surprised that they grabbed Archer as early as they did.
Dri Archer certainly put on a show at the combine running the second fastest 40 time ever recorded there, behind Chris Johnson in 4.26 seconds. I think that Archer may be a running back on the depth chart, but he won’t be Chris Johnson. Archer is tiny at 5’8″ 173 pounds.
Watching the tape, you can pretty much assess Archer in about 5 minutes. He’s fast, very fast. He has soft hands and is able to pluck the ball with his hands and turn upfield quickly. He’s a dangerous kick returner. And he’s not going to break tackles.
I think that despite being called a running back, you will see Archer do most of his work lined up in the slot on screens, reverses, etc.
I’m sure you’ll also occasionally see some work out of the backfield as he wasn’t afraid to go between the tackles at Kent state, but I’m sure the Steelers will want to get him in space because he’s most dangerous there, and to preserve his body.
I’ll admit despite liking Archer, he’s probably my least favorite pick in the draft (but only because of the draft position). Archer looks like a faster Chris Rainey. Rainey was supposed to be the Steelers’ do it all guy, but saw about 2 offensive touches per game in his lone season in Pittsburgh.
As I wrote shortly after the Steelers selected Archer, they need to figure out how to maximize his potential, and to manufacture touches for him.
As Steeler nation is well aware, the Steelers have been in plenty of low scoring, tight games over the past several years… Just one big gain by a guy like Archer on a swing pass could be the difference in a tight game against the Ravens or Bengals.
The Steelers have already said that they will give Archer every opportunity to take over putn return duties as well, which is good news. Antonio Brown is too important to the team to continue returning.
Archer was a feared kick returner at Kent State, but doesn’t have experience with punts. I don’t see any reason that he can’t grow into a good punt return man after working there in camp and preseason though.
In summary, Archer has game breaking speed that few guys have even at the NFL level, and the Steelers could always use just one more big play per game… But the Steelers will need to work to get him the ball in a position to make a play.
I guess this just seems like a luxury pick for a team that has a lot of holes. I hope that he gets more involved in the offense than Chris Rainey was.