Pittsburgh Steelers running back Dri Archer certainly didn’t have a memorable rookie season as the third round draft pick out of Kent State only managed to register 17 total offensive touches that resulted in 63 total yards in the 12 games that he dressed for. Even so, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is not ready to give upon his 5’8″ speedster.
“I’m excited about what 2015 can be for him,” Tomlin said of Archer at the annual owner’s meetings in Arizona. “It’s his second lap around the track. I have a reasonable expectation that he’s going to grow in all areas and be a productive player for us.
“Guys like him usually do that. He’s a good guy, a smart guy, he’s hard working. He has all the variables that usually produce a positive outcome, and we’re going to give him an opportunity to do it.”
With former Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams now signed to be the primary backup in Pittsburgh to starter Le’Veon Bell, the biggest chore that Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley will have in 2015 is finding ways to get Archer on the field and subsequently getting him touches. This was the same exact problem the two faced last season.
In addition to having Williams under contract for at least this season, there’s also the possibility that the Steelers might wind up drafting another running back next month to serve as the long-term back up to Bell. Should that wind up being the case, Archer really could have an uphill battle ahead of him during training camp when it comes to making the final 53 man roster
Archer can certainly help his cause and solidify himself a roster spot in 2015 if he can lock up the kick return duties during the offseason. Last year he really didn’t set the field on fire in that area of his game to start season and was eventually replaced by running back LeGarrette Blount and subsequently wide receiver Markus Wheaton after returning nine kickoffs for a 17.9 average. Being as he is undersized, Archer doesn’t offer much value on special teams outside of being a return man, so that’s important to remember when it comes down to determining the final few spots on the roster.
I am certainly not as optimistic about Archer as Tomlin seems to be and I hope the young running back can live up to expectations that have been placed on him. The Steelers have a third-round pick invested in him and we all would hate to see that be a waste after just one season. I’ll continue to hold my breath in that regard and hope for the best.