Was Dri Archer The Steelers Worst Draft Pick Of The Last Five Years?

Was the selection of Kent State running back Dri Archer in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft the worst pick that the Pittsburgh Steelers have made dating back to 2011? Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com certainly seems to think so.

The NFL Nation reporters were asked recently to assess the worst draft decisions over the last five years from the teams that they cover and Fowler chose Archer for the Steelers and here is his reasoning:

Dri Archer seemed like an ideal pick for Pittsburgh in the third round of the 2014 draft. He had brilliant speed and ran a 4.26-second 40 at the NFL combine. The Steelers needed a kick returner, and Archer could have been a versatile weapon in the Steelers’ passing offense. But Archer’s career in Pittsburgh lasted less than two seasons, with 67 offensive yards to show for it. He was a hesitant returner and couldn’t overcome his size (5-foot-8, 173 pounds). The team released Archer, who was a free agent until the Jets signed him this offseason. The Steelers don’t miss this badly in the first three rounds very often, but Archer was easily the franchise’s worst pick from 2011 to ’15.

While Archer certainly had an underwhelming and short career in Pittsburgh, several might argue that the selection of tackle Mike Adams out of Ohio State in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft should have been Fowler’s choice. Or at worst that Adams should share the dubious honor with Archer. In fact, being that Adams had character concerns on top of questionable NFL-ability, still has me scratching my head as to why the Steelers chose to spend a second-round pick on him. If you remember, the Baltimore Ravens selected Kelechi Osemele just three picks later. Hindsight, anyone?

Others, however, might be inclined to choose outside linebacker Jarvis Jones as the Steelers worst early-round selection dating back to 2011 and with good reason as he’s yet to come close to registering the kind of production that the front office hoped to get out of him. Jones, however, still has at least one more season in order to prove his doubters wrong and it will be interesting to see if the organization winds up picking up his fifth-year option prior to the early May deadline.

If we were to include players selected by the Steelers outside of the first three rounds, safety Shamarko Thomas could certainly be considered as one of the worst selections dating back to 2011. In addition to him barely seeing the field on defense dating back to the middle of his rookie season, it’s important to remember that the Steelers actually traded up to select him in the fourth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft to get him. That trade included them giving the Cleveland Browns their third-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.

What about the selection of defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu in the fourth-round of the 2012 NFL Draft? Where does that rank on this list?

So, where do you weigh-in when it comes to this discussion? Did Fowler choose wisely?

  • Dan

    What makes the Archer the worst pick is that he only lasted 1 1/2 years. Even Adams was on the team longer. That, and Archer had some pretty high expectations as an explosive playmaker, and did the exact opposite when he got to the league.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    I nominate Curtis Brown, a #3 pick in 2011. He was drafted to play CB, but ended up mostly playing special teams. I think he’s out of the NFL now.

  • turtle

    A high pick (2nd rounder) and relatively no productive contributions seals the deal for me on Mike Adams getting the vote.

  • falconsaftey43

    Can’t be Jones, as he is not a bad NFL player, just not the impact guy you want in the 1st.
    Can’t be Thomas either, because he is a solid ST player.
    Adams is a below average OT, but will probably stick in the league longer. 2nd round makes this close.
    Tamu stuck around for a little while in AZ, plus it was 4th round.
    3rd on Archer looks the worst. They didn’t have a good plan on offense, never excelled as KR. Unless he really makes a splash in NY, it’s him. Plus just the idea that you drafted a guy in the 3rd round who was primarily a KR, and you knew could never be a full time offensive player just makes it a bad pick from the start. At least all the other guys play a position.

  • Cols714

    Pretty good job by the Tomlin and Colber that this is the worst the could come up with.

  • NCSteel

    While Mike Adams jumped right into my mind as well, based purely on snaps and positive (or lack thereof) production Archer probably fits better in the “worst pick” spot, the only reason I do not handcuff Shamarko to him is because he was not taken as high and still has a chance to make some kind of positive contribution, Archer, obviously, cannot.
    All in all, every pick you mentioned was horrible, I would rather the Steelers have received a new water fountain or new cafeteria paint job than the picks you mentioned, they were that bad.
    Amazing what they have overcome despite these picks.

  • Mike Adams, I honestly do not think he could block dave.

  • ginko18

    Mike Adams as R2 with major character issues. Wondering now if Archer selected R3 b/c they believe Bryant would fall to R4 with drug issues.

  • steelersfan

    Jarvis jones > dri archer. Plain and simple . If we are talking most dissapointing first round picks then yes Jarvis jones would be it. The thing that’s so frustrating about dri archer was everyone and their mother besides the steelers front office knew that it was a wasted pick. A luxury pick on a guy with question marks that wasn’t at a position of need….at the time we couldn’t afford a pick like that

  • Hypo Cycloid

    Shark was drafted higher. He was a 4th and a 3rd. DRI was only a 3rd.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Um no. I vote any player currently with no Snaps and currently team-less.

  • Ray Powell

    I would go for Archer, although good cases can be made for Adams, Jones and Curtis Brown. I think the thing that separates Archer from the others is that a lot of people before the respective drafts thought those players were going to be worth those picks, not just the Steelers, so their decision was understandable. In fact, I seem to remember people saying that Adams was great value in the second round as long as he kept his nose clean off the field. But spending a third round pick on a guy who you know is never going to be a starter and who you have to manufacture touches for? That was a waste and what made it worse was that they could have picked up a pretty good corner in Bashaud Breeland, who went a few picks later.

  • John21

    Colbert has had some doozies!!! Archer was the worst followed by that infamous 4th rnd where we took Shamarko & Landry Jones. I temember thinking -in both cases-WYF are we doing? Has KC lost his mind?

  • Rene Gonzalez

    All the other picks mentioned were able to contribute in a way. Jarvis is a solid OLB if nothing espectacular, Thomas is a thumper on special teams (with some penalties but still), meanwhile, Archer never amounted to anything anywhere.

  • Brian Tollini

    He was pretty good on special teams though. Archer did nothing.

  • steelcityinny

    I agree Archer was worst, closely followed by Sharmarko (unless he actually comes through this year). Not so down on Alameda Ta’amu since my expectations for him were not that high.

  • jl9744

    I don’t think Archer was the worst. I don’t understand why they never used him in the regular season as they used him in the preseason. They used him as an in-between the tackles guy. The draft pick I feel was the worst would have to be between Mike Adams or Shamarko Thomas considering both were given first opportunities to start and to this point could never hold a firm grasp on those respective starting positions. Especially if one of them shadowed Troy Polamalu for two years before being thrust into a starting role.

  • bruce

    semantics really, I actually thing Adams is a good right tackle, he showed ample skill set on the right to be a starting RT, but the front office won’t budge on moving Gilbert to the left. I will say, giving up the fifth rounder to move up for Ta’amu seems a waste, given the teams lack of interest to let the player develop / endure past his off field incident. But hands down if we just expand the window a bit, Limas Sweed in the second of 08 was by far the worst draft selection, especially since the team basically hung on for dear life hoping this guy would pan out.. He’s my biggest disappointment in recent years.

  • WreckIess

    I still think Dri wasn’t a bad player. They just didn’t know how to incorporate him into the offense without it being completely obvious.

    I think Adams and Jarvis have him beat by a good amount just based on where they were picked. A sactback is no where near as large of a miss as a LT or an OLB are. Jarvis has set the team back to the point where an OLB is a pretty decent bet for the 1st pick for the 3rd time in 4 years. And if it wasn’t for Beachum and Villanueva then Adams would’ve set us back a long way too.

  • I don’t think it was Archer. While I loathed the pick at the time — if it had been a fifth instead of a third, sure, maybe — Archer was still, at least to some extent, a worthwhile risk given his potential upside as a sort of swing WR/RB weapon, ever more important in a changing, more offense-focused NFL. And while I’m not saying he was any good, I do think part of the problem was that the Steelers just didn’t use him wisely. Maybe there was no way to use him wisely, that can be argued, but maybe greater efforts could have been made to incorporate him into the offence in a creative way. Certainly I think some teams, like the Patriots, would have found a role for him beyond the return game.

    I also think Adams was a worthwhile risk in the second, though of course hindsight tells us otherwise.

    I’m tempted to go with Shamarko, as we’re talking about the guy once thought of as Polamalu’s eventual replacement, and of course the Steelers traded up to get him, but it’s important to remember that other than size he had the physical attributes and capabilities to be successful in the NFL. Maybe some red flags should have gone up at the time, but it took time to figure out that he just doesn’t have the head (to put it nicely) to be anything other than a special-teamer in the NFL.

    So I suppose I’d go with Jones. Sure, he has another year to prove himself, and, to his credit, he hasn’t been all bad given his strong play against the run, but he certainly hasn’t been the impact edge rusher the Steelers need, and certainly not what you expect from a first-rounder. I really hope he proves me, and so many of us, wrong this year, but I’m not counting on it.

    Oh, another name for the list would be Ziggy Hood — a decent player, maybe, but a square peg in a round hold for the Steelers, and something of a bust as a first-rounder.

  • Xclewsive

    Mike Adams and Jarvis Jones are the clear cut winners. 3rd round picks are less than 50/50

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I feel it will depend on whether he makes something out of himself in New York. He was actually returning kicks pretty well for us when we let him go. Never understood why he was let go.

  • RickM

    When you factor everything in, round selected, game day contributions, etc. I agree that Archer probably wins the discussion by a nose. I would add CB’s Shaquille Richardson and Terry Hawthorne to the list as they couldn’t even make it through training camp. Yes they were 5th-round CB’s, but they showed nothing and have done nothing in the NFL since, or even the CFL. Those are misses with a capital ‘M’.

  • PittsburghSports

    Yeah when I saw Fowler’s article I immediately thought of Alameda Ta’amu. Archer was selected 97th overall. Ta’amu was selected 109th overall, so there’s a great comparison in draft position. Ta’amu never did a damn thing for the Steelers except get a DWI. Archer at least had a role on specialteams and was sprinkled in offense his first year.

    Here’s my ranking of worst picks since 2011:
    1) Alameda Ta’amu
    2) Dri Archer
    3) Curtis Brown
    4) Terry Hawthorne
    5) Shaq Richardson
    6) Jarvis Jones
    7) Shamarko Thomas
    8) Mike Adams
    9) Landry Jones
    10) Gerod Holliman

  • Doug McFee

    I review draft classes more than the individuals as I expect some players to bust out regardless where they are picked. The 2008 and 2009 Draft Classes are/were total busts for me. Not one player from either of these classes are still with the team. I still have hope for Jarvis Jones and Sharmarko Thomas. Mike Adams is a log and I hated the Archer pick from jump.

  • tequila0341

    Mike Adams won Steelers’ rookie of the year in 2012. He’s had productive snaps in the NFL as a Steeler, which is more than you can say for Archer unfortunately.

    I kind of wish they’d stuck with Dri. He was actually starting to get some good kick returns before they went down the blind alley of Jacoby Jones. It’s going to be really annoying here in NYC if he takes one to the house as a Jet.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The one thing we do need to look at with Hood is that he did go to a team that used him as a 4/3 DE and he still wasn’t very good. Hood was just a bad pick and it was sad as he worked his butt off to try and be better.

  • PittsburghSports

    Yup, plus played in 41 games and started 20. He hasn’t worked out all that well for a 2nd rd pick, but there’s a good group of players that were far worse picks than him.

  • We’ve had some really BAD misses…which is what worries me when we’re on the clock. To be fair, we’ve had some miracle picks, too, like Antonio Brown. Nonetheless, when I hear that Neal is the only safety invited to the draft, I can’t help but wonder if someone suspects strongly that he’s our pick. I groaned when they drafted Thomas because his college tape seemed mediocre–big hits, big misses, and poor cover skills, a lot like Neal. Truly, I hope they do better with safety this draft–like nailing it! For me, Shamarko might be the worst pick. They picked him in Troy’s declining years to groom as his replacement, so they lost those precious final years when Troy could have mentored the next in line [which Troy tried to do].

  • PittsburghSports

    Ta’amu was selected 12 spots later in draft position than Archer, and his Steelers highlight was a DWI.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    As a guy who wanted Archer I was very sad with the outcome and I do agree he has to be in the running for worst drafted player because of the round and years he lasted. I felt he was performing better however when he was let go for a guy that was past his prime. I would put that in as the most boneheaded move by the Steelers in the last 5 years.

  • RickM

    That’s a pretty logical order factoring all parameters in (as should be done). I’m not a Jarvis Jones fan but you’re right that he isn’t in the Top 5 or 6. Yes he was drafted higher than any of the other players but he has 2 1/2 years where he either started or was a 40%-50% back-up player. And, of course the Steelers will likely play him at least 50% of the time in 2016. So his contribution level far, far exceeds the guys you have listed above him.

  • PittsburghSports

    Out of all those guys JJ has the best chance to improve or worsen his position. If he flops this year and is gone I’d probably put him all the way to #3. Same deal with Shamarko, who’d essentially be no better than Curtis Brown was, if he can’t find a role on the defense.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Are we looking at his overall work in the NFL or just in Pittsburgh? Ta”amu I believe is still in the league and has logged some play time as well, not much but he did get on the field.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    God you are right on the money with Ta’amu. We even traded up for him I believe. I had high hopes for him. We were really looking for the next Casey Hampton at that point and that guy just ammounted to nothing. Also, if a 7th round pick is our tenth worst selection in the last 5 years, I think that says we’re actually drafting fairly well overall.

  • PittsburghSports

    Ha, yeah I just had to add Holliman, cause there wasn’t a great option and we all knew he was gonna fail. Just a matter of time.

  • PittsburghSports

    I mean you should consider it, but at a minimal level. Ta’ama has 7 tackles, played in 21 games and started 3 in 2 years for ARZ, but was out of the league last year. We traded a 6th rd pick and our 4th rounder to move up 10 spots to grab him. He was cut in November and never dressed a game for us.

  • Kevin Reich

    Shamrko. Two picks wasted. Dri was at least a top five returner when he was released.

  • PittsburghSports

    It was one pick. Traded one pick for another.

  • steelburg

    I agree with you when you say they had no plan for him, that IMO is the primary reason he wasn’t successful with us. Put Dri with a guy like Andy Reid or put him with Sean Peyton or with Tom Brady they will find a way to use him. Like you said he was primarily a KR and did very little PR in college. So they drafted a small school KR who needed time to adjust to the speed of the game in the NFL in the 3rd round. The whole thing seemed like a experiment to me that they had no intention of following through on.

  • kdubs412

    There are all relatively strong arguments as to why Jones, Adams, or Archer would be the worst. My personal vote would be for Jones, because it’s just so painful to miss on first-rounders and there was a lot of evidence that suggested Jones wasn’t a smart pick at #17.

  • Buccos9

    Archer is the worst pick, but Mike Adams comes close because he’s a second rounder who has combined poor performance with horrible judgment (the stabbing incident). When Mike Tomlin said “don’t be that guy”, Adams must have had his headphones on.

  • draframe1

    Colbert has had at least one complete whiff within the top 4 rounds of each of the last 5 drafts with ’12,’13 and possibly ’14 seeing 2. Let’s list em for fun:

    2011-CBrown (3rd)
    2012-MAdams (2nd) ATa’amu (4th)
    2013-SThomas (3rd) LJones (4th)
    2014-DArcher(3rd)
    2015-DGrant (4th)-I still like this guy but he couldnt make the 53 last year

    That’s at least a 33% fail rate for the premium picks that should at least be large contributors if not starters.

  • Matt Manzo

    I’d say it’s a toss up between Jones, Adams and Archer!

  • Fuamatu-Ma’afala

    Adams gets that honor easily in my mind. The Landry Jones pick is the one I never really understood though.

  • Rotten Sircus

    Limas Sweed or Curtis Brown …easily ! Mike Adams should be ready to compete & redeem himself I hope !!!

  • Paddy

    2012 was terrible, but if Adams somehow redeems himself this season…..

  • Hypo Cycloid

    That is more than 5 years ago.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    Dri is the worst. Here is why.

    Jarvis Jones is an average NFL LBer. He is playing and is still on this team despite not living up to the 1st round status.

    Mike Adams had a 1st round grade and looked the part when drafted in the 2nd round. Yes, he had character concerns, but they aren’t his issue. He was terrible at LT, but he held his own at RT and remains on this team.

    TeAmu was a good pick at the time. A position of need and a decent round. He was worth the pick at the time. Yes, he flamed out by bad decision making, but he was a round lower than Dri.

    Shark cost us both a 3rd and a 4th. But he also looked the part of his position. He is still on this team, and shows potential, but it is above the neck as Tomlin says. He is the next closest to Dri, being he was so costly and it looks like he will not pan out.

    Dri…3rd round for a guy that everyone should’ve known didn’t have the BMI to play in this league. Never should’ve been drafted in any round, let alone a 3rd! And he was a player without a true position, making him even more of a risk and more of a luxury pick. He had one asset… speed…and didn’t use it in game. He couldn’t return punts. He became a mediocre KR only and then was cut. What the team was thinking, I have no clue. I was steaming mad when they took him. These comparisons of other small players really don’t compare because they have bigger BMI’s and strength compared to this little man.

  • NCSteel

    an excellent point. you are correct.

  • Joseph Duffy

    All of our kick returners have been mediocre, could it be that no one is getting blocked? Scheme, coaching?

  • srdan

    If you are judging the last 5 years of any draft, and a backup QB, a linebacker that contributes weekly (95), a good special teams safety that played slot corner rookie year and a failed attempt at capturing lighting in a bottle are the worst mistakes you have made, you’re one of the top 10 executives in teh league. Faaaaar from lost your mind.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    Yes, they need improvement in that department big time. But that doesn’t change the fact that we can use nearly anyone of return ability to be mediocre as well. I believe that is one of the reasons they let Dri go. They can use a KR that at least adds depth somewhere else on the team. Dri wasn’t even a depth player. If he was only going to be a KR, he better be fantastic at it, regardless of factors not in his control.

  • NinjaMountie

    I have to go with Archer. Jarvis is bad for his draft position; no one wants to whiff on a first rounder. However, he’s improved and turned into a player that at least has a future in the league. Adams, while sub-par, can get it done as a 3rd OT in situations and has the ability as an emergency backup. Archer…just not sure we’ll see him around the league in the next couple years. He just didn’t translate.

  • The Notorious TOM

    Dri Archer was the worst handled* draft pick in the last 5 year. This failure’s on the coaching staff.

  • popsiclesticks

    Archer is still technically in the NFL, he’s with the Jets right now. We’ll see if he makes their roster.

  • popsiclesticks

    I consider Shark a 3rd rounder for these purposes, since they traded a 3rd to select him.

  • popsiclesticks

    You hated Shamarko? There is not a single NFL team that doesn’t miss routinely on 4th rounders.

    Hell, just about every other team on the list is 1st or 2nd rounders for worst pick.

  • Nolrog

    Archer was pretty bad, Shemarko was pretty bad (he was a 4th round pick that we traded a 3rd to acquire), Curtis Brown was pretty bad, and I will go back to 2008 and throw in the obligatory Limas Sweed.

  • Nolrog

    There were also a number of picks who weren’t exactly busts, but didn’t produce up to their draft round. Ziggy Hood, Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, Urbik (though he was decent in Buffalo), the entire 2008 draft class. So while these are the worst of the bad, they were by no means the only big time misses.

  • Russ Ruffing

    According to my draft value spreadsheet – which is based on objective, not subjective, data – Mike Adams is the Steeler’s lowest-value pick in the last five drafts, with Dri Archer third worst. You’ll have to wait for my upcoming article to see how draft value is determined, but it’s a combination of a player’s draft position and his worth to the team. I am trying to finish it prior to the draft, and it will have a value for every Steelers draft pick going back to the 1969 draft class (the Joe Greene class). Here are the five lowest-value picks since 2010 according to my spreadsheet:

    Mike Adams 52
    Thaddeus Gibson 54
    Dri Archer 58
    Jarvis Jones 62
    Alameda Ta’amu 62

  • ND_Steel

    Very interesting, any consideration for what was left on the board at the time of the pick? (Possibly with added emphasis if there was value at the position drafted, ie. Osemele going after Adams) In the case of Archer, there was still a lot of value left both at his position and elsewhere…TEs Rodgers and Gilmore, Donta Freeman, Martavis Bryant, etc.

  • VinHuddle

    Still don’t know what went wrong with Limas and to think back I was thinking that was such a good pick at the time.

  • Mitch

    Right, and it’s a pretty good job that Hood, Jarvis, and Worilds are some of the worst picks when they still contributed at least something to the team. Not like Dominique Easley or Kyle Boller or Matt Elam. I kind of disregard Urbik because his failure in Pittsburgh was due to being beaten out by Ramon Foster, another Colbert/Tomlin acquisition.

  • Mike Lloyd

    Well, in fairness Sharknado Thomas (Lol) was the worst trade…
    Jarvis Jones is a worse pick however…Too many of us are hollering for edge rushers-even now! If Jones would’ve even just been mediocre would we be having that discussion? He sucks till now. They did miss badly on Archer as well as Adams however.

  • Kevin Reich

    You’re right. Counts as a 3rd?

  • PittsburghSports

    Yeah traded a 2014 3rd rd for a 2013 4th rd.

  • Steve Johnson

    Colbert has missed more often in the past five years. He has never done a great job of selecting players on day 2 or 3 for depth. And I get sick of him announcing he’s looking for depth. If your mindset is set on looking just for depth, that’s exactly what you find. Look for players that can become potential starters. As far as which one is the worst? Easy, in order, Jarvis Jones, Mike Adams, Dri Archer, Curtis Brown and Shamarko Thomas. They all STINK!! Mike Adams failed a drug test at the combine and they took a chance on him anyway. Sometimes you roll the dice and do that, but not in the second round! Most NFL Experts had Archer slated as a 5th or 6th Rd pick. Jarvis Jones was the weakest LB at the combine, questionable frame, and his coaches questioned his work ethic, Colbert and Tomlin waisted a 1st Rd pick on him. They can’t draft a serviceable DB, I just hope they get it right in 2016.

  • Jeff Burton

    Are you kidding, dude? Jarvis Jones all the way. The guy is a MEGA-bust. He still is yet to beat out the guy he was drafted to replace and I’ll tell you Deebo will retire before/if Jones ever wins a starting spot. Hell, Arthur Moats could beat him out. Having a 3rd round luxury pick under perform is nothing. Really, bro, get a grip.

  • Shane Mitchell

    I don’t know, was cutting him for Jacoby Jones a good decision either?

    He was averaging 25.3 yards per return when they cut him, and he was showing progress.

  • popsiclesticks

    Worilds arguably is pretty decent for a 2nd rounder. I saw a redraft a few years ago that put him at the back end of the first round. So many more players do nothing than most people tend to think, IMO.

  • DSG

    Hands down Jarvis Jones. Don’t get me wrong Dri is worhtless but at least he was a third round pick. You could say that JJ plays, but he plays b.c he was first round pick not b/c of inherent talent IMO. If he was a 6th round pick he would have been cut by now. I would put Archer a solid second though

  • DSG

    Actually Adams before Dri. top 3, JJ, MA, DA

  • OIF3gunner

    This would be easier with a list of players drafted in the last 5 years. My memory isn’t the greatest.

  • Big White

    That would be Mike Adams. 2nd rounder.

  • Applebite

    Truth told, i think people overvalued Archer more than he was actually worth. There was too high of an expectation going into that draft from the locals, that Archer would somehow be this huge difference maker in the return game. I really didn’t see that others were seeing at the time. But the hype made one think he was the next coming of Donte Hall.