After two straight seasons of equivalent wins and losses, it’s certainly no surprise that the front office of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been busier and more active than usual in their efforts to reshape a middling roster into a true competitor.
The past few months could be fairly described as a season of change amid the shifting fates of a franchise that had just been to the Super Bowl three times in the very recent past. It may well be that past success that has helped drag them down of late.
Of course, selecting late in the draft annually doesn’t help, nor do the big contracts going out to the players that helped you reach that success. But the true death knell has been an unwillingness to recognize when to let go.
The Steelers had hoped to hold together that championship core for a while longer, but the last two seasons have been the wake-up call necessary to introduce the wave of change that we’ve seen this offseason, designed to steer the organization back in the right direction.
One of the new players added this season through the drafted that is expected to add a new dimension to this team will do so while invoking an older nickname that will generate some mixed reactions among Steelers fans: Slash.
Third-round draft pick Dri Archer is expected to become the first true slash in the Steelers’ offense since the days of Kordell Stewart—before he took over the starting quarterback position, of course, and dropped all the slashes.
Primarily a running back through most of his college career, Archer also has plenty of receptions on his résumé; in fact, he transitioned primarily to wide receiver during his senior season following an ankle injury in part to better show pro offenses what he can do.
The truth is that Archer isn’t, or at least doesn’t appear to be, a natural receiver with silky smooth hands. He will certainly require some polish when it comes to receiving the ball as well as running the appropriate routes.
But make no mistake, he has more than enough natural talent to be a deadly weapon in the passing game. He has the speed to elude just about any defender in the league once he has the ball in his hands, and his receiving talents are more than acceptable for a running back.
But if you take a glance at the Steelers’ official roster on their website, you’ll see that he is clearly listed there as “WR/RB”.
And if you follow him into the Steelers’ facilities, you’ll quickly learn how to get to both the running backs meeting room as well as the wide receivers meeting room. As Mike Tomlin put it, the Steelers will throw as much at him as he can handle.
And that’s when he’s not spending time with special teams coach Danny Smith, considering he’s expected to be the primary kick returner, to add yet another slash to his list.
While there’s still much to be learned about what type of role that Archer will fill within the offense this season, there’s no doubt that the Steelers will be active in getting him involved and getting him touches. His unique skill set is a much desired change that could add an exciting and productive dynamic to the offense.