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