Steelers Film Room: 2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report – Kent State RB Dri Archer

By Alex Kozora

Scouting breakdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers third round pick and 87th overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft, Kent State RB/WR Dri Archer.
Dri Archer/ATH Kent St: 5’7/3 173

The Good

– Special, quick-twitch athlete, natural

– Fantastic change of direction, maintains speed through his cuts

– Splash play capable, “hold your breath” type player and dangerous in the open field

– Speed to win to the edge most backs don’t have

– Good balance

– Extremely versatile, limitless options to his game

– Fluid as a route runner, gets out of his breaks in a hurry

– Return value

The Bad

– Slight frame with only a little bit of muscle, small hands (8 7/8)

– Goes down too easily, lacks strength to run through contact, has to make you whiff

– Weak, doesn’t have much leg drive

– Poor runner between the tackles, tends to put his head down on first contact and goes down too easily

– Questionable vision, will run too East/West, trusts speed a little too much

– Poor receiver, too many drops and a body catcher

– True position?


– 2013: 982 all-purpose yards (527 rushing, 327 receiving, 128 return), 11 TDs

– Third Team All-MAC as receiver and kick returner in 2013

– Best season in 2012: 1429 yards rushing, 561 yards receiving, 23 total touchdowns

– 2012 MAC Special Teams Player of the Year

– 2013 team captain

– Four career kick return touchdowns

– Missed the 2011 season due to being academically ineligible

– Injured ankle early in 2013 and missed time or was limited

– Three sport athlete in high school (track and baseball)

– Over 1800 yards of offense senior year

– Standout track star who finished ahead of Denard Robinson in state’s 100 meter

Tape Breakdown

You don’t need me to tell you how good of an athlete is. 4.26 40 at the Combine and a 1.46 ten yard split. Rare to see anyone post numbers of those caliber.

Dangerous in space. Put him one on one and he’s likely to win.

Plays like that show how well he could fit into the Steelers scheme. Team that loves to throw smoke screens against off coverage and bank on them making the corner miss. Archer can do that.

Rare speed and second gear to get to the edge. Also see the ability to accelerate after giving the corner a shake.

Third and ten run against Rutgers in 2012. Linebacker driving downhill and looks to have the angle on Archer, who is wearing #26 after a jersey issue early in the game that forced him to change numbers.

Archer1_zpsce65aafeBut Archer kicks in that second gear and motors past, gaining the edge, planting upfield, and picking up the first down.

Archer2_zps19e16fadArcher3_zpsf1a1968dA splash play waiting to happen. Guy you get really excited about. Reason why they invented the highlight reel.

Played everywhere for Kent St. In the slot, in the backfield as a traditional back, as the Wildcat QB. Team threw swing passes to him, smoke screens, draws, option pitches, etc. Golden Flashes got really creative with him and that’s what the Steelers likely plan to do.

In the four games I watched, lined up at wide receiver 33 times. He was in the backfield another 44 times.

But he comes with his fair share of issues.

Weak runner who goes down far too easily. Arm tackles enough to bring him down.

Scared runner between the tackles. Obviously not his wheelhouse but would like to see a better effort. Chooses to put his head down in the lane and gives up on the play too quickly.

Archer4_zps57c61ad2Questionable vision and loves to try and bounce plays. Thinks he can get by because of his speed. Normally worked in college because he was the unquestioned best player on the field but won’t be the case in the NFL.

Instead of cutting upfield for a modest gain, chooses to try and run down the line. Ends up getting tackled for a loss.

Archer5_zps1ab8ef34Archer6_zps7fbe9818Poor hands as a receiver despite being a good route runner who can separate. Terrible drop against Ohio that would have gone for six. Not shown here but typically a body catch.

Archer is an exciting player to watch but I’m lukewarm on the selection. It has nothing to do with what happened to Chris Rainey or LaRod Stephens-Howling. Past doesn’t dictate the present.

I’m all about value and being able to contribute in multiple ways but in the third round, I’d like a player with a true, defined position. Not someone who could do a little bit of everything. Those undersized but fast players albeit not Archer fast can be had later in the draft. I’ve been talking about grabbing Roy Finch as a UDFA for a long time. Fear Archer will be the “jack of all trades, master of none” type.

Besides that, still not sold on Archer as a runner. Guy that looks to go around contact and can’t run through. Won’t have the same level of success in the NFL.

Still have to digest the selection and watch some more tape but can’t say I love the pick.

Games Watched: at Rutgers (Junior Season), vs Arkansas St (Bowl – Junior) vs Ball St, vs Ohio

Again, my game notes.

10-27-12 at Rutgers: Started game wearing #1, jersey issue forced him to wear #26. Shows second gear, can get to the edge when most backs can’t. Gifted player. COD is top notch. Great balance and can tight rope down the sideline. “Hold your breath” type of big play ability even if he didn’t break one. Did have a big 3rd and 10 run to help preserve win, showed speed to edge. 18 RB, 4 WR. Can make defenders whiff because of agility, showed it in previous games too. Used creatively, fake handoffs, options, and as a receiver. Multiple carries as a traditional runner. Poor runner inside, puts head at first sign of contact and gives up too easily. Lacks strength to move the pile. Belief in speed to get to the edge. Body caught as a WR. Two KRs. Down too easily. Can make defenders miss but when meeting them head on, not when defender is at an angle.

1-6-13 vs Arkansas St (Bowl): Special athlete whose small size makes him elusive in the open field. Burst, acceleration are fantastic. Change of direction without issue. Quick twitch. Splash play capable. Used on smoke screens, jet sweeps. Versatile. Goes down too easily. Another dropped pass. Limited between the tackles.

10-12-13 at Ball St: Svelte frame with only a tiny bit of muscle, obviously undersized. 10 snaps at WR, 4 in backfield. Multi-purpose athlete. Slot, WR, used on a couple quick hitters into the flats, smoke screens. True and wildcat RB (twice) didn’t throw. Smooth athlete who maintains speed in his cuts. Natural athlete. Speed to win to the edge. Agile, very quick-twitch. Not particularly productive, bottled up by Ball St. Lost fumble on first carry. TD catch, fluid in his breaks. Will run East/West too much. One gear? Went down too easily. Outmuscled on wheel route late in game. Jack of all trades?

11-19-13 at Ohio: Big game. 2 TDs in blowout won. 11 WR, 16 RB. Dangerous, elusive in space. As quick-twitch as they come, changes direction without losing speed. 2nd gear to get to the edge, will win one on one battles other guys just can’t. Runs around tackles, not through and displays some balance. Must be up to speed to make you miss, lacks strength to run through while not at top speed. More traditional RB, slot, one out wide in 2 WR set (smoke screen). Big play with ball in his hands. Poor receiver with ugly, wide open drop. Can separate but body catcher. Will go down too easily. Bit shy between the tackles, tends to put his head down. Can be too East/West, play out of control, able to get away with it. Will pass up open lanes to try and bounce. Head down between the tackles. Shows balance, can tightrope.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • JesusChristTheGodMan .

    You know Hines Ward was drafted third round and coming out he was looked at as a jack of all trades and master of none, that worked out well for us, so with Archers abilities I’m all for seeing what he can become.

  • Steven Vincent

    I like the pick. WR, RB and KR, adds a new dimension to the offense. There was nothing left on the board that we really needed to have. The rest of the draft should be CB, DL and LB however. No more offensive players.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    He reminds me a little of Giovanni Bernard, except much faster and more dangerous. Used correctly you will definitely see some huge plays that can contribute to winning. There will obviously be some losses while trying to make all these big plays. That’s alright as it goes with the territory.

  • dkoy85

    With him on the field the offense is one of the most explosive and fastest teams in the NFL. Going to be fun to watch the offense come together this year.

  • WilliamSekinger

    I suppose if you ignore his kick return ability it would be easy to think this pick was questionable. The ‘little muscle’ comment was way off base. Any 170 pounder that can bench 225 20 times has quite a bit of muscle.

  • Ike Evans

    not going to lie…I liked the Dri Archer pick…before I realized Lache Seastrunk was still on the board.

  • WilliamSekinger

    As far as I know he’s still there…

  • Paddy

    One things for sure he is fast, the defenses will have to account for him.

  • Ike Evans

    True…is still.on.the board…i think the falcons take him though…i would take seastrunk over dri even though dri is faster

  • shawn

    Alex, I really enjoy your scouting reports the most as you tend to give it straight … but i have to completely disagree with you on this one … especially the 3 points below

    1. Poor Vision – we must be seeing different tape as i think he has some of the best vision i have ever seen … is looking 2/3 guy/moves ahead without any hesitation … truly amazing !

    2. Poor runner between the Tackles …. wow u are way off base on this one … as i see this as one of his strengths … where he gets alot of his damage is between the tackles … granted he won’t bowl anyone over up the middle, but if munchak gives him even any daylight in the middle the guy is gone ! Please watch more tape on him …

    3. He has no position … once again i have to think you are missing the point … every team could should use a guy like him … he can KR, Run, Catch even Pass his way down the field) the guy is a game changer pure and simple … i think he is a perfect fit … and it really wasn’t a 3rd rounder … gotta look at it like a 4th rounder … it was a comp pick for pete’s sake … the x factor backs were coming off the board in a hurry ( Brown + Mckinnin)

    and as for him being weak … wow did u not notice his 20 reps the guy is a little monster .. yes he does go down easy at times but he is a HR hitter in every sense of the word and instantly fills 3 roles (KR, Speed Back, and can slot outside) he is one tough SOB to boot !

    Finally i think even though u cited his speed i think u did him an injustice … his speed is not just 4.2 that is pretty commonplace every year … but its his speed with pads on and a football in his hand that is extraordinary … by far the Fastest 4.2 player i have ever seen ….

    He will be the fastest player on game day on every rootin tootin Sunday and its not even close … and that is something !!

    Lastly a small point, but i heard it mentioned (not confirmed) that he had the same number of steps in his 40 as 6.5 Calvin Johnson … dont know how that can even be possible at a tad below 5.8 but looking at his stride on film it truly is pretty crazy for a little guy … he must literally be flying in the air !