You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.
In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.
When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.
Topic: Who was the worse draft pick in terms of production versus value: Jarvis Jones or Dri Archer?
I think this could be an interesting debate for the dead time of the football calendar. While the Steelers have long built their roster, and their reputation, around strong drafts, they like everybody else have had some that simply didn’t work out.
Among the most discussed in the past five years or so are Jarvis Jones, the outside linebacker that they took with their first-round draft pick in 2013, and Dri Archer, a running back / wide receiver they took at the end of the third round in 2014.
Jones was significantly more productive than Archer was in his career, but he was also taken with a far more valuable draft pick, so therein lies the discussion. As a player, Jones was obviously the better and more successful of the two. But he may have done more to set their roster back.
The Georgia outside linebacker spent time starting as a rookie, but never really became an unquestioned, full-time starter, always at least being rotated. The closest he came was the first three games of the 2014 season, recording two sacks with a forced fumble, only to injure his hand, which prompted the re-signing of James Harrison, who is still here, while the first-rounder is not.
Put simply, because Jones never developed into the player that they expected him to be, the Steelers have used two more first-round picks on his position over the course of the past three seasons. While it’s very possible they would have used one on the position, with Harrison on the doorstep of retirement again, two is highly unlikely.
But at least he offered some productivity. He was a replacement-level starter. Archer was barely even a gadget player. Boasting rare speed that didn’t actually show up on the field, he struggled immensely to escape first contact.
The hope was that he would at least earn a return job, but he failed to do that as well. The Steelers released him in the middle of his second season and his career has fallen off a cliff since then.
Which side do you lean closer toward?