The Steelers may have gotten the (wait for it) steal of the draft with third-round running back Dri Archer, a speedster from Kent State that adds an intriguing dynamic to the Pittsburgh attack. Assuming that Archer can get the most out of his skills on the sometimes choppy, uneven turf of Heinz Field, Archer brings a home-run threat at tailback that the Pittsburgh offense hasn’t seen since Willie Parker.
But Archer could me more than that. For now, he doesn’t know exactly what he’ll be.
“I’m not sure,” Archer recently said, via August Fagerstrom of the Akron Beacon Journal. “It’s going to be a big role, but I’m just going to do whatever I’m asked to do. Play receiver, play running back, helping special teams. Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do it.”
Similarly speedy first-round linebacker Ryan Shazier thinks Archer will do plenty.
“He really does everything,” Shazier said. “He can catch, he can run, he even goes through the tackles sometimes. Having him be able to do all that in practice really helps us break down angles, fundamentals and trust ourselves and what we have to do.
“When you’re chasing him and really understanding the way he cuts, you’re not going to see anybody faster than him, so it helps you be able to read and tackle any other guy.”
With Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount presumably at the top of the depth chart at tailback, Archer could be a candidate to enter the fray on third downs, catching passes out of the backfield or shifting to the slot and hoping to be matched against a linebacker.
Regardless, the Steelers wouldn’t have taken Archer with a second-day pick if they didn’t have real plans for him in his first year. While some of that speed could be wasted on a slow track in November and December, Archer could make a major impact for the Steelers, possibly right out of the gates.