Debunking Three Myths About The Dri Archer Pick

By Michael K. Reynolds

The reaction to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 third round selection of Dri Archer was nearly universal: “Huh?”

I’ll admit to the same immediate response myself. My confusion was positional. Why would the Steelers braintrust take a running back with such a high pick?

But it only took a little research showcasing Archer’s elite talent and versatility to get me fully on board with this pick. Count me as a believer. In fact, my bold prediction is that Archer will end up being one of the most exciting players of this year’s entire draft.

Think early Kordell Stewart. Or Antwaan Randle El. Or Mike Wallace…before the dollar signs blurred his vision.

Yet, this seems to be a minority viewpoint. Most people consider the Archer pick to be the official head scratcher of this year’s Steelers draft.

But I am here to debunk the three biggest myths of the selection of Archer. Because I think the young man is getting a bum rap and fans would do well to rally behind him.

MYTH ONE: THE THIRD ROUND IS TOO HIGH A PICK TO GAMBLE

False. In truth, the third round is not the sure fire place for Hall of Famers. In fact, it’s much more Las Vegas, Nevada than Canton, Ohio.

The Steelers are widely acknowledged as among the league’s best at drafting, but take a close look at their third round selections over the past twenty years. Think third round picks are a sure thing? Think again.

WINNERSSO-SO’s (or Jury’s Still Out)FLOPS
Emmanuel Sanders – 2010Markus Wheaton – 2013Curtis Brown – 2011
Mike Wallace – 2009Sean Spence – 2012Bruce Davis – 2008
Keenan Lewis – 2009Matt Spaeth – 2007Anthony Smith – 2006
Joey Porter – 1999Trai Essex – 2005Willie Reid – 2006
Hines Ward – 1998Max Starks – 2004Hank Poteat – 2000
Mike Vrabel – 1997Chris Hope – 2003Kris Farris – 1999
Kendrick Clancy – 2000Chris Conrad – 1998
Amos Zereoue – 1999Paul Wiggins -1997
Jon Witman – 1996Steve Conley – 1996
Brendan Stai – 1995

Sure, you might think that Max Starks should be declared a winner or that Amos Zereoue should be considered a Zero. But the point remains: It’s a roll of the dice in the third round. It’s even worse when you consider that four of the “Winners” in the third round didn’t stay beyond their rookie contract.

When you factor that in, the third round has produced mediocrity at best for the Steelers. In the last twenty years only two third round picks fully panned out for the team.

From this perspective, the Archer pick doesn’t look so risky after all, does it?

MYTH TWO: THE PICK IS TOO HIGH FOR MERELY A KICK RETURNER

False. How close were the Steelers to making the playoffs last year? Yes…just one Kansas City lay down away.

How important would have been ONE big return in ONE game been in helping the Steelers make it to the playoffs? Huge.

Just ask Mike Tomlin and Jacoby Jones about how important kick returns are.

I actually believe the Steelers will be innovative in getting Archer on the field in many ways. Not only will he return kicks, but punts as well. And on offense he’ll provide a whole new dimension to the role of “Slash”. He’ll be a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball.

But even if you insist on calling him merely a specialist, he’ll single-handedly be worth a win or two next year. That’s certainly worthy of a third round pick.

ARCHER IS JUST ANOTHER CHRIS RAINEY

False. Archer is a football player. And a quality individual. His coaches have all stressed the caliber of his character.

He is not only fast, fast, fast…but he has also worked hard to build himself into a powerful football player. He is a hard worker not only in the weight room, but with the Jugs machine as well, and expect him to blossom as a specialized receiver as well.

This is a man who has heard he is too small all of his life and he is determined to show the NFL what he can do.

Will Archer end up being one of the best value picks of 2014 for the Steelers? It’s way too early to even speculate (although admittedly that didn’t stop me here).

But was he a reckless pick for 2014? No. That’s the biggest myth of all.

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland series. MichaelKReynolds.com
  • letownia

    Nice optimistic analysis of the pick. If he works out, he is a great asset and a very positive pick. He could definitely turn some games in our favour and seems to be a way better prospect than Rainey. If he doesn’t, well your point on the history of 3rd round picks is very good.

    My *major* concern is fumbling. I’ve heard that he has had some problems with fumbles at points in his career and what if he makes some big plays but also coughs up the ball more often than others? He could cost us some games, especially since our defence needs time to gel before it is strong enough to respond to turnovers like it did during the steel-curtain years.

    Any thoughts on his fumbles? (I’ll try to edit with a source)

  • HoDepot

    Huge potential. Compare his combine numbers to Tavon Austin’s, the 8th pick overall last year. Dri is the same size, but faster, stronger, and more explosive. Will he produce on the field? Will Haley utilize him effectively? TBD. But Austin showed in the Superbo the impact a few plays can have on a season. If Dri can impact some key games with some key plays, he will have been a steal in the third.

  • Jim McCarley

    You can’t teach speed, speed kills, etc. Just having that threat can change the outcome..Archer doesn’t necessarily have to score to be beneficial, even though that would be nice. Just giving the offense a shorter field more times than not would help the entire team…..even the defense. Flipping field position is key in many games. There’s really no reason NOT to have a guy like Archer, if you are lucky enough to find one….

  • Steelers12328882

    Geez, Hank Poteat lasted 10 years in the NFL, and he’s a flop?

  • Caesar

    Pretty subjective debunking. I appreciate the analysis, and I was initially one of the people really down on this pick. I still am pretty down, though have gotten a little more hopeful. On point 1, doesn’t that maybe just show that the Steelers draft rep, especially of late, is maybe not quite as well substantiated as we would like to think? Would like to see a comparable to another team there, like another one with a strong draft rep like Green Bay or Baltimore. On point 2, I still think this is a very overrated idea, unless you have the next Devin Hester I still think rd. 3 is too high for a specialist; of the top 10 teams in kick return average last year, only 3 made the playoffs. On point 3, fair enough. This is maybe a spit where I’ve come around to see that maybe the best potential comparable for Archer would be Darren Sproles, which I think would make it worth a rd. 3 pick. Also, nothing here on ball security issues, which for me is one of the biggest concerns.

  • Paddy

    He is a RB plain and simple, yes he can return kicks but after Blount leaves he will be the lightening to Bell’s thunder

  • Geoff Cordner

    I am drinking the kool aid here! Would love Archer to be a star.. of course wouldn’t we all love that?

  • ATL96STEELER

    I was shocked when the pick was called with so many DBs on the board…after taking some time to let it sink in…I think it’s a great pick and agree with Mike here wholeheartedly.

    Fast Willie was a true RB, but there’s no substitute for speed in football and this guy has speed to burn. You don’t stop trying b/c of past failures…we’re talking about potential so it must be tempered, but Richardson or any other CB taken in the 3rd would not have the impact this player is capable of this season.

  • Steel PAul

    Pretty sure the success rate for First round draft picks is only 50% across the board.

  • Steel PAul

    I have trust in the organization. I’m no pro personnel expert and very few are good enough to do that at the pro level. I will trust this FO to build what they envision and root hard for them. If Archer is what they think he is, he should be very fun to watch.

  • Craig Ressler

    Love the article and I agree. Glad you wrote on this. After the initial, what the junk! I, like you, was fully on board after doing some research and look at the positive of what could potentially be. What I am about to say in no way alone would cause me to use a 3rd round pick on Archer but this is just ridiculous when I try to internalize it but Archer tied Calvin Johnson for the least amount of steps to finish the forty yard dash. Out of all the workout warriors/freaks of nature to go through the combine Calvin who we all know is an athletic freak like none other had the record. Archer who is 9 inches shorter stinking tied the Tron a freak in his own right. In my book, at least in some sense, makes Archer a freak of freaks. I still struggle internalizing it to be honest. On top of that, and this obviously is what counts he runs a 4.26, and most importantly he’s a football player not just a track guy who can run fast. To me I think he is worth the gamble.

  • joed32

    If you look at the Steeler drafts, they’re not that good but when you start looking at the other team, Ravens included, most of them are worse.

  • AndyR34

    What ^he said…although I’m not sure I am “fully” on board. However, I typically reserve judgement on any draft picks for a couple of years. As was pointed out in the article, most picks #3 and after are not overly successful.

  • Craig Ressler

    “On board,” as far as what they are trying to do with him and the reason why they drafted him with a 3rd.

  • brent

    He’s a WR now.

  • shawn

    In his last full season he fumbled 2 times in 2012 with over 210 touches … what was that now … ball security issues ???

  • shawn

    ya that 18 step thing has my head twisted as well … i dont think people fully understand how incredible that is … u said it best he is a freak of freaks … ( btw he was actually timed at 4.16 which is supposedly the fastest hand timed ever at the combine … but its ok if they want to use the electronic time of 4.26) its not necessarily his timed speed that kills … its that speed he has on the field during games that blows me away !

  • Labrat0116

    BRILLIANT PICK !! Have you ever seen elephants “trying” to stomp a running mouse ?? Just imagine Archer running like a mouse through the Raven’s defense!

  • srdan

    I could add to the first myth that Archer was actually picked after the third round. He was a comp pick at teh beggining of the fourth. Does that sound better?

  • Craig Ressler

    Yeah, what really stands out about Archer is his ability to make football moves and maintain so much of his world class speed. Also was his ability to fit in tight spaces before it closed because of that speed. So often I was like no way he’s making that, but he would, WHAT?! Ridiculous! Pretty stoked to see him on the field in game action for the Steelers.

  • Caesar

    For his career at Kent St., 47 games, 13 fumbles with 10 lost. Last season 4 with 3 lost on 95 touches. That’s reads as a concern to me.

  • shawn

    read a little more into it …. his 1st 2 years he was part time …. he was vastly improved his first full season as a starter with 2 fumbles … last year he was hurt and lost 3 … I really dont see it as a big issue … most RBs in the NFL fumble at least 3-4 times a year … which he is on par with … I think they will obviously work with him on it, but i dont see it really as a big concern !

  • shawn

    Read my above reply on the fumbling issues … u are skewing the numbers … he is fine !

  • Jeff

    I agree completely. This guy is capable of making plays that can change the outcome of a game.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I made a fantasy draft for who I wanted the Steelers to pick and I had Archer in the 3rd and how surprised was my friends and for me to see it happen. I understand why people do not like the pick but I see a guy who is a homerun threat everytime he touches the ball. Lets hope I am right!

  • letownia

    The numbers aren’t being skewed at all. That’s how much he fumbled in 2013 season. If you look at his entire career it’s 13 fumbles over 475 touches, which is a fumble every 36 touches. This is a significant concern and I’d assume that NFL players are better at forcing fumbles. Maybe he has to work on his ball carrying technique. I hope that’s the case and he can get over his fumbling issues.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    All this article does is point out that the Steelers are too willing to take a high risk/high reward player in the 3rd round. I also think this shows they overvalue this particular role with the team, time and time again they have taken a player to fill that role, either in this round or another, and that player has failed.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Initially I will be happy with the occasionally play that helps the team on offense and as a punt returner so AB will no longer be burdened with that chore. AB needs to teach him to fair catch often to prevent getting your head handed to you. Only return the long ones where you get a chance to take a few steps and get going. Maybe a big play once in a while.

    Later in the year he should be able to help even more with the offense. That’s also the time when the weather gets colder and many more kickoffs are returnable. That’s when I would hope the Steelers are still in the hunt and he can take a couple back to the house, contributing to some big wins to win the division or in the playoffs. Hopefully it goes something like that.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I wanted archer bryant tuitt and gilbert in the draft missed on gilbert but shazier is a nice consolation prize

  • Madi

    Good post. I’ve been getting more excited about Archer by the day.

    Off topic, but… Chris Hope = Winner!

    We were fortunate to replace him as well as we did, but Hope was one of the unsung heroes of our Super Bowl run. He brought a lot of stability to a team that had trouble giving up the big play. He got a big contract elsewhere, but so did Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders and Keenan Lewis. To me Hope was every bit as valuable as Keenan Lewis at his best, and on top of that he helped early in his career instead of waiting until the last minute.

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    Good point. He could be moved to the “so-so” column. However; he was a big disappointment for the Steelers. He was supposed to be a big time corner and returner and he provided neither for the team before becoming a journeyman player elsewhere.

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    Chris Hope was a valuable player to the team and he went on to have a longer career elsewhere. Not what I would consider to be a consistent Pro Bowler candidate. He was definitely on the borderline. I suppose the word “Winner” wasn’t the best choice. Hey…they’re all winners for making a professional roster. The point here was that few “exceptional picks” come out of the third round. At least less than people think.

  • http://batman-news.com MC

    The Rainey comparisons need to stop. Rainey was a fast guy,Archer however looks like a football player. He is built more solidly then Rainey, stronger, has better vision and im sure he will be able to take a hit better.

  • Madi

    Well, I thought he was a fantastic pick who gave more to the team than some of the guys in the Winner column, and if you don’t penalize him for leaving, then I’m not sure what more he could have done.
    Maybe it’s a vocabulary issue, because I think to call him “so-so” is insulting. Then again, I don’t think word choice is the problem. By any stretch, from any angle, drafting Chris Hope in the 3rd round was a win.

  • Steelers12328882

    True, but he was one of the top punt returners his rookie season, and I know you remember the exclamation point he put on the final game at Three Rivers. I’d move him to the so-so and I’d definitely move Starks and Hope to the winners list.

  • Ryan

    Thank you! Ive been saying this is a great pick all along!

  • tim

    And didn’t he leave/ cut and only to be brought back…..?

  • shawn

    Like i said you are skewing the numbers … you conveniently left out his only season playing full time in which he fumbled 2 times in about 220 touches … thats a fumble every 100+ touches which is excellent …

    If you want to be accurate and make a more honest judgement ( although i tend to go more by his full season rather than last year as he was hurt)

    Take the avg of the last 2 years as Im sure he improved much over his first couple going into college and i would throw those aside …

    the numbers for the last 2 yrs over 300 touches … with 6 fumbles … thats a rate of 1 fumble every 50+ carries which isn’t horrible … could obviously be worked on but not as big an issue as you are making it out to be … to put it into perspective …. if he gets 150+ touches for us the entire season that would be about 2-3 fumbles at his former rate with maybe 1-2 lost fumbles …. i think we can all live with that … These are the FACTS … try putting a little logic and thinking it out next time !

  • Steelers12328882

    No he never came back. He was cut and brought back to a lot of teams throughout his career, but he also has a Super Bowl ring with the Pats.

  • letownia

    Take a chill pill…

    Just because you disagree doesn’t mean I am “skewing the numbers” or not making an “honest judgement”. I cited his most recent season which is a “FACT” and is logical. He was recovering from an ankle injury, but should that really affect your ability to cradle the ball? Maybe slightly psychologically, but it still makes it a valid concern as I stated.

    I’m excited for him but also concerned about the fumbles…

  • Hp B

    A man 175 pounds who does 20 reps at 225 pounds!!!
    Freaky strength.