According to Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Dri Archer began working with the wide receiver group today during the final OTA session before mandatory minicamp. Wexell also notes that Archer told him he will be attending both running back and wide receiver meetings going forward.
This, of course, coming as the he and the Steelers agree to terms on his rookie contract earlier this afternoon, leaving just Stephon Tuitt unsigned, but I digress.
The fact that Archer has begun working with the wide receivers and attending the wide receiver meetings, of course, should not be surprising. He played both positions significantly in college, and spent quite a bit of time at receiver in his senior season in particular.
The only thing that is marginally surprising, perhaps, is the timing of this introductory course. Archer missed the early portions of OTAs because he was selected to attend a mandatory rookie premiere. He also had an illness earlier that kept him from participating.
It’s likely, then, that Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley wanted to get him a taste at working with the wide receivers before minicamp begins, as they left it until the final day of OTAs before handing him over to receivers coach Richard Mann.
The idea of putting him on the edge, of course, comes from the collective desire to get the 4.2 speedster out in space. On the topic of Archer’s open field ability, Tomlin described it thusly: “if you can get him the ball in open grass, you’re cookin’ with gas”.
NFL reporter Albert Breer recently reported that Archer “has been tagged internally as a miniature Jamaal Charles, who Todd Haley coached in Kansas City”.
Charles has about three inches and 25 pounds on Archer, admittedly.
The two backs had similar 3-cone times at the Combine, though Archer did slightly better in the 20-yard shuttle. Of course, he also outran the veteran back in the 40 by about a tenth of a second.
Their broad jumps were the same, but Archer performed significantly better in the vertical. Charles did not bench at the Combine, but Archer’s 20 repetitions are more than representative for a back of his stature.
Interestingly, both players struggled with fumbles as college players. It’s not an encouraging sign, then, that Charles’ issues have continued, as he’s fumbled 19 times in his six-year career, including one in the 2011 season, when he tore his ACL in the second game.
One other interesting note is that Charles has over time become more integrated in the receiving game, reaching a new high with Andy Reid taking over in Kansas City. He recorded a career-high 70 receptions for 693 yards and seven touchdowns last season. His previous career highs were 45, 468, and three, respectively.
Archer, of course, will never receive the requisite touches necessary to attempt to replicate the production of Jamaal Charles.
But if he can produce a representative facsimile of the Pro Bowler’s yards per touch figure of 6.2, I think Steelers fans will be quite happy—as long as it doesn’t come with the matching fumble ratio of approximately one in 67 touches.