Dri Archer Combine: Speedy Running Back Still Has Limited NFL Future

Alex EspinozaCorrespondent IIIFebruary 28, 2014

Kent State running back Dri Archer runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

If speed kills, Dri Archer had a deadly performance the NFL Scouting Combine this past week in Indianapolis.

With a blazing time of 4.26 seconds in the almighty 40-yard dash, Archer posted the quickest time since Chris Johnson's record of 4.24 set in 2008.

Heading into the combine, Archer told Branson Wright of The Cleveland Plain Dealer that his goal was to break the 4.24 barrier set by the Tennessee Titans running back. While the Kent State product fell short of his bold target, he was successful in giving Johnson a scare.

Perhaps NFL Network host and everyman Rich Eisen gave folks the best context on just how fast Archer truly is. Check out this GIF of Eisen (5.98 seconds) and Archer running side-by-side.

B/R and NFL Network

That's fast.

As much weight as the 40 gets around this time of year, Archer still doesn't seem to be much more than a mid-round pick at best. According to Mike Mayock of NFL Network, via Wright, Archer may have thrown his name into the mix to be a Day 2 selection after initial projections had him going in the final rounds of the draft.

But as Mayock noted, the big question surrounding Archer is finding a way to get him the ball.

And the more you think you can get him (touches), then the more money you can pay him and the higher you can draft him. The less you think you can get him touches, then his value starts to drop. So you look at a kid like that and you go, ‘Is he a fourth-round guy where he’s going to be a situation guy, slot, motion, hand him the ball?’ So most of those guys typically go around plus or minus the fourth round and him running the way he did really helped.

But the difference between Johnson and Archer is far greater than 0.02 seconds. Johnson has been able to establish himself as an every-down NFL running back because he is 5'11", 203 pounds. Archer, meanwhile, could sneak on to a prep field in football pads and no one would notice.

Simply put, Archer doesn't have the size to stand the physical demands of regular duty in the NFL.

He measured in at 5'10", 173 pounds at the combine following two seasons at Kent State,  when he averaged 1,422 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns as a running back and receiver.

While Archer's speed is something you can't teach, his best bet is to take on a Dexter McCluster-type role with his new team as a change-of-pace option on offense and a special teams threat. McCluster has carved out a nice niche for himself with the Kansas City Chiefs and serves as a nice comparison for Archer.

McCluster's best year came as a rookie when he set career highs in catches (53) and yards (511), but he's accounted for eight touchdowns in four years and is always a part of the other team's game plan.

Archer's 40 time might not be enough to get him out of the last day of the NFL draft, but that's not to say he can't still be a valuable member of a team in 2014. Role players are a huge part of any unit, and Archer has a skill set that few can match.

Archer will definitely be in an NFL training camp next fall. Now it will be interesting to see how his team plans to use him with the big boys and heavy hitters of the league.