When it comes to the NFL, speed kills, and elite speed is the great equalizer. No matter how big you are, someone can tackle you, but when it comes to speed, I mean real on-field speed, some guys just play in a different gear and there’s no answer for it when they get loose. Kent State multi-purpose player Dri Archer is one of those guys. His speed on film is so far beyond his teammates and his opponents that it looks like everyone else is in slow motion.
But having said all that, is Archer a top prospect for the 2014 NFL draft, or will the problems with his game make him more of a novelty in the league? Let’s break down Archer’s game and see what we find.
- Elite, game breaking field speed.
- Top level acceleration.
- Exceptional change of direction and balance.
- Incredible balance and elusiveness in the open field.
- Scheme/Position versatility.
- Level of competition.
- Doesn’t work hard to get up field.
- Hands are questionable.
- Won’t fit every NFL system.
If you are looking for a player that everyone will be talking about this season in draft circles, it’s likely Archer. People tend to become enamored with elite measureables, and when you consider that Archer is likely one of the three or four fastest players in college football who will be in this draft, you understand why people love his game.
But a 4.25 40 time is not what makes an NFL prospect. In going back over Archer’s 2012 film, you can see he is a rare type of player. However, we have seen players like this before. They create huge highlight reels of big plays, but many struggle to find their niche in the NFL. Archer is more running back than anything else, although I can certainly see him having great success as a kick returner as well. Many have wondered if Archer could move to wide receiver at least part time in the NFL. I don’t see the route running and hands right now to justify that, but it’s certainly something he can improve.
As I watch Archer this year, I want to see him show more patience as a back, letting his blocks set up rather than just try and take everything to the outside when it’s not there immediately. I want to see him show more of an ambition to stay inside, run between the tackles and be OK with fighting for four yards rather than trying to make everything about the long run. Archer is going to be a polarizing figure this year. Is he more like Darren Sproles, or maybe Dexter McCluster, or is he another Onterio McCalebb?
Personally, I think on the right team, Archer is going to be a nice player. He can be more than a novelty, but I don’t think he can be a real workhorse player. Eight to 12 touches per game and returning some kicks are more than reasonable expectations. Where do you draft a guy like that? We will know very quickly what Archer is made of, because in September Kent State has back-to-back road games against LSU and Penn State. How he plays in those games will be telling about his NFL future.
2014 Draft Projection: Third Round
Games reviewed: vs. Kentucky (2012), vs. Rutgers (2012), vs. Miami (2012), vs. Arkansas State (2013)