Todd Haley, Mike Tomlin, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were very excited when they got the opportunity to draft running back slash wide receiver Dri Archer with the first overall compensatory pick in the third round back in May.
His 4.2 speed and versatility, the thinking went, would open up the offense and create matchup problems, while he was expected to be a weapon for the Steelers on special teams as a return man.
We haven’t seen much, if any, of either yet.
For starters, he failed to win the punt return job during the preseason with his underwhelming showing with gunners screaming down the field.
Beyond that, he’s only had the opportunity to return two kicks thus far, despite the Steelers’ defense giving up far more scoring drives than is desirable. One was returned for 19 yards, the other 12, for an average of 14.5.
On offense, he’s logged a total of 18 snaps, with 15 coming in the season opener and three coming this past Sunday. He ran the ball one time for four yards in the opener and caught a screen pass in the most recent game for one yard.
Of course, he missed the previous two games already with an injury.
Archer hasn’t exactly been the explosive play machine the Steelers brain trust had envisioned just yet—at least not in the regular season.
He showed enough of that during the preseason—albeit not always a great indicator, especially considering the level of competition—to remain optimistic about how potential future success in this offense, but we certainly have not seen it yet.
At this point, he’s not even much of a compelling decoy the offense can use to fool the defense pre-snap with misdirection.
Hopefully Haley has a plan to change that in the near future, although he’s already struggling to find enough snaps for everybody in the offense.
We already knew going in that Archer’s snaps would likely be fairly limited, and his touches would often be manufactured to get him out into open space, but it doesn’t serve much purpose if it doesn’t translate into big plays.
Perhaps Tomlin was slow to integrate him into the offense after missing time. After all, Lance Moore struggled to log 11 snaps and one catch in the last two games after missing the first two. That may help explain his three snaps on Sunday. Will we see him more over the next few weeks? And for that matter, will he ever get a chance to break a kick return?