Archer’s moves bring opportunities to Steelers

While rookie Dri Archer may be the smallest player on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster, big things are expected of the team’s third round draft choice as the team gets ready for the 2014 season.

Archer is a multi-talented player who can line up as a running back, wide receiver, return punts and kickoffs and even take a whirl at throwing the ball.

“This is a guy that is going to create some unique opportunities for us, from a package standpoint,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said when the team selected Archer.

Archer wowed the Steelers when according to their stopwatches, he ran a 4.16 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. The official electronic time was 4.26, but the Steelers had 4.16 on their official watch. In other words, Archer can move.

General Manager Kevin Colbert noted, “There is track speed and there is football speed. Dri Archer has football speed.”

During his four years at Kent State, Archer truly did it all. Archer pulled in 99 passes for 1,194 yards (12.06 average) and scored 12 touchdowns. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry, gaining 2,342 yards on 325 attempts. He scored on 24 of his carries. Archer also found time to return 51 kickoffs and four touchdowns. His 28.16 return average is fourth all-time in the Mid-American Conference. He even completed one pass and made four tackles. His 40 career TDs are only one behind former Cleveland Browns’ standout Josh Cribbs in the Kent State record book.

“I can carry the ball and catch the ball,” said Archer as he bounced on his feet with excitement. “I think I’m best when I can get out in space and try to make people miss me. I have been fortunate at getting to the end zone. At Kent I was able to do a lot of different things on the football field. It was fun.”

Minicamp was a huge learning curve for Archer, who unlike most rookies, is being asked to learn a number of positions.

“I was just trying to absorb everything,” said the personable Steeler. “I know that the more things I know, the better chance I have of getting on the field and helping the team.”

Unbelievably, Kent was the only school to offer the Laurel, Florida native a Div. I football scholarship, perhaps being offset by his shortness of stature. Those schools who passed on him didn’t take into account his speed, agility, and football ability.

“Kent was the only school that offered me a scholarship. I saw snow for the first time when I went to Kent and didn’t really know what to make of it. Eventually, I grew to actually like it. The snow in Pittsburgh won’t bother me.”

At this juncture, early in training camp, special teams coach Danny Smith is planning on having Archer as one of his return men.

“I like returning kicks and punts,” Archer said. “I just want to help. I’m now getting the chance to play with and against the best players in the world.”

Archer only had the opportunity to return two kickoffs last year, as opposing teams wouldn’t kick to him. He proved them right, as he returned one of those two for a touchdown. He was the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2012.

While some envision Archer as a running back, others see him as a wideout, while yet others see him as a kick returner Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin may have said it best, “He’s a splash playmaker.”