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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Around The Draft; Dri Archer

60 prospects, 60 days.

Today's takes a turn with an offensive weapon, tweener, whatever you want to call him.

Dri Archer's a pocket rocket.

I liked Dexter McCluster coming out but I wasn't sure if he'd stay a back (and he didn't).  Then again, I saw the same thing out of another massively fast, thin playmaker - Chris Johnson.  Johnson hit 2000 yards as a back, though I still have no clue how.  His lack of enough power is now evident, but for a few years he was tough to track down.

Archer falls in that mold, and while doing those comparisons may do him a disservice, there's no doubt that he's also much smaller (5'8, I guess, but maybe less - and 173 lbs), that his size at Kent State [it's remarkably distasteful to call him the Kent State Bullet but, I mean, let's face it no one will even get that and it's well before my time] isn't NFL size, and that he'll be better off being taught upfield routes than trying to follow guards twice his size.  He had toughness running in the box, and I'm not going to take rushing the football off the table.  But it feels like WR is his home eventually.

He does have experience moving around - not just at RB, but slot WR, and both return spots.  He's almost unlimited potential, the way Devin Hester was almost worth listing as a returner instead of having a position; he definitely impacts the game enough to get him involved.

I watched the RB workouts at combine, my first year of being able to really watch combine, and Archer stood out in workouts.  Of course he would.  I didn't catch that little man put up 225 x 20 on the bench - a significant amount of weight for his size and an indicator he's not the typical track guy.

Naming a number of NFL vets isn't to call where Archer is talent-wise.  His leading attribute is his speed, he's not as versatile as the above players yet and he's certainly not a young Darren Sproles, either.  Ron Rivera likes that Sproles type guy, the flavor you can't scheme.

The downside?  Now that Carolina has one Sproles in Kenjon Barner, another in Archer seems silly.  And that first Sproles barely played - it's almost an afterthought that there's no reason for him to play in a vanilla scheme that predicates holding the ball as much as it does big plays.  Rob Chudzinski would make something interesting out of these two kids, though he also wasted a fair two years of Deangelo Williams' career on a dizzying array of two-yard shotgun draws over and over and over again on first down, waiting for that one 70 yard changeup every three weeks.

Mike Shula?  I don't know if he has room for this guy as a back.  And if Tiquan Underwood is "the deep guy", does the team need two?  Cam Newton barely gets a deep ball now and again.

So, the question becomes, to a point, is Archer the return man who can turn around a game?  That's a pretty big possibility.   His stop/start ability matched with acceleration you only find in a 4.2 type player, along with the toughness of a larger player in the open field, means he's a guy with this skill set:
*the 4.2 40
*RB toughness and elusiveness
*a punt returner's mentality catching, returning, or rushing the football

I think that's the sort of thing you want returning your punts. That job, of course, is currently open, likely to go to the generic version of Darren Sproles currently employed by Carolina, unless that changes.

Now, a 3rd, or 4th possibly since Al Davis isn't here to draft all the sub 4.3 guys until they're gone, is a lot to give to a team that has Hog Molly needs. And they do.   But best player is best player.  By 3, or 4, if you were to miss that part of Ted Ginn enough to upgrade on that?  Archer might be your man.  What he turns into after, that's hard to say, but by 2015, you're just finding ways to get him on the field.

(those of you young enough, I think I deserve a nod for not writing this full of Archer references - Laaaanaaaa!)
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