Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Speed was one of the themes of the draft for the Steelers, and there was no faster player than Dri Archer.
He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.26 seconds and has potential to be one of the most electric playmakers in this year’s draft class. Then again, he could develop into another Chris Rainey.
In one season with the Steelers, the 5’9” and 180-pound Rainey touched the ball 40 times on offense for 162 yards and two touchdowns. That is only 4.05 yards per touch, plus he had three fumbles.
Rainey contributed on special teams as well as he had 39 kick returns for 26.53 yards per return. He only had three punt returns for 16 yards. In all, he only averaged 5.13 total touches and 75.81 yards per game.
Archer must surpass that type of production to support his third-round draft status. However, at just 5’8” and 173 pounds, he may not have the bulk to hold up in the NFL.
During his rookie season, Archer will be the top kick returner on the roster. He was productive at Kent State with an average of 27.61 yards per return and four touchdowns in his career. Though he only had nine punt returns.
Archer proved to be a capable runner and receiver, as he ran for 2,342 yards (7.21 yards per carry) and had 1,194 receiving yards (12.06 yards per reception) over his four-year career. Todd Haley will want to help him match that potential.
That means that Haley will have to be creative in his play design—as well as take the ball out of his other playmaker’s hands.
Haley will use Archer in the backfield, and it may be beneficial to use him in multiple-back sets to confuse the defense. He would provide Ben Roethlisberger with a run or pass option. They could also motion him and use him in the slot.
But with a lack of size, Archer will have a difficult time creating space for himself. That means Haley’s play designs will need to put him in free space where he can not only use his speed, but his quickness as well.
Archer will never be a feature back, but he doesn’t need to be. The Steelers just need him to be a player who is closer to a Darren Sproles-type than to Rainey.