Scouting Report: Dri Archer, RB, Kent State

Scouting Report: Dri Archer, RB, Kent State

Big talent in a small package (Updated 4/21)
By: Pete Davidson : February 17, 2014 2:37pm

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Dri Archer was a special college football player, and at Rotobahn, we’re not convinced his story will end there. More so than any player we’ve reviewed so far in 2014, Dri (pronounced DREE) is a projection. He’s a projection because of his lack of size and because he’ll have to make a transition to receiver to make it in the NFL. In fairness, the transition to receiver is already underway. In fact, Kent State lists Archer as a RB/WR. The thing is, he’s more tailback than receiver at this point of his development. It’s not about labeling, it’s about what he can do at the NFL level.

Archer plays the game at top gear--always looking for the big play. That said, unlike a lot of smaller backs, he doesn't waste much time going East and West.  He’s a tenacious competitor and he has a chance to play meaningful football in the NFL. I’d go so far as to say it’s probable, if he lands with a team that has the chops to get the best out his skill set as Andy Reid did with Dexter McCluster last year.

A team like the Saints would be a good fit, as would New England. Chip Kelly and the Eagles might have some interest as well. Archer needs to find a team with a creative offense and a competent quarterback. Cleveland could be another team where Archer might fit. He’d be a very interesting back in Kyle Shanahan’s zone stretch scheme, because Archer is actually a very good one-cut runner though certainly not ONLY a one-cut runner.

Just imagine if the Browns left this year’s draft with Johnny Manziel, Carlos Hyde and Dri Archer? Now that is a dangerous and extremely diverse backfield! It could happen too as the Browns pick twice in round one and Archer can probably be had on day three.  Just a thought.

Let’s take a look at the things we like most about Archer.

  • Speed - This kid is a blur and we think he could run sub 4.4 at the Combine. A poor time would hurt him a bit, but that’s very unlikely.
  • Acceleration - More than just fast, Archer has several gears and he uses them effectively. He’ll stop and start on a dime and he’s at top speed in a split second. He defeats angles on film as players are constantly underestimating his burst.
  • Big play ability - It goes without saying, but when Archer gets into space, he is dangerous. The obvious goal for any team that rosters Archer will be to get him into space as often as possible without getting him beat up in the process. Getting significant reps as a receiver is huge for his fantasy potential.
  • Versatility - As I’ve already stated, this is the key for Dri. He needs to become a true multi-threat who can be moved all around the formation as a tailback or as a receiver. If he can become a seamless player in this regard, like Reggie Bush, Shane Vereen or Darren Sproles, then he has a chance to make a big impact. The other end of the spectrum would be a player like Taiwan Jones, whose shaky ball skills have him playing more defense than offense these days.
  • Production - One thing you have to like about Archer is the fact that he always made plays when he was on the field.  There have been some injuries that have cost him time and that's always going to be an issue with smaller players, but this kid produced when healthy.  His college numbers are impressive.

Here are a few good looks at Archer. We start with his 2012 bowl appearance.

Here we have a nice mashup of his game against Rutgers in 2012.

If you want more, here’s a decent highlight reel though the resolution is inconsistent.

We have very little doubt that Archer can be a contributor to an NfL team and we expect that to happen, but we’re primarily a fantasy football outlet and we always scout players with that in mind.

The obvious question with the Kent State star is, can he find a role on an NFL team that will allow him to touch the football enough to be fantasy viable? After all, that was an issue for Tavon Austin last season and he was a top ten selection. Austin was also advanced as a receiver while Archer is still learning the position.  This is a tricky move for a college tailback. It’s not as tricky as the roommate switch, but it’s tricky nonetheless.

Archer’s fantasy value will have a lot to do with the team he’s drafted by. I say this about all players, but it applies to Archer even more than most. He could develop into a poor man’s Austin in the right situation. Of course, Austin himself is still developing as far as his role goes.

We think these kinds of players are going to continue to emerge in the ever-changing NFL. Players like Danny Woodhead and Darren Sproles are not anomalies. We think it’s more likely that they’re the tip of the spear. It’s the age of two and three-headed backfields and the full-time slot receiver. There’s room for a mighty mite or two on most NFL rosters. Dri Archer has a good chance to be part of this new wave and he may have fantasy value at some point.

Archer is not the only compelling smurf in this year’s crop. We have similar love for Brown’s John Spooney and Oregon’s DeAnthony Thomas. We’ll have reports on both in the near future. As for Dri Archer’s future, it’s a crapshoot and the first die will be cast at the draft.


Post-Combine Update

Archer took Indianapolis by storm with a whole bunch of impressive performances. Let’s take a look.

  • Height - 5’8”
  • Weight - 173
  • Hands - 8 7/8”
  • 40 - 4.26 (1st)
  • Bench Press - 20 Reps
  • Vertical Jump - 38” (T 4th)
  • Broad Jump - 122”
  • 3-Cone Drill - 6.86 (4th)
  • 20 YD Shuttle - 4.06 (2nd)

Dri lit the joint up pretty good but perhaps the most surprising number was 20 reps on the bench. We needed no further convincing when it came to Archer’s athleticism, but now we have proof.  He's quick, fast and agile plus he's got serious strength.

I spoke to Dri at the Combine, and he was a bright young man with a very open mind when it came his role in an NFL offense. He’s not bent on proving that he can be a full-time back. He wants to be a big time player and we think he can do it in the right situation and given good health.

There's also some new film on Archer, which I thought I should include.  You get a better look at him as a receiver in this footage.  It's certainly ecouraging.

You see a little bit of everything in this game.  You see Archer turn it over and you see him drop a sure touchdown.  Of course, you also see him get behind the defense, which is a positive.  This is the game tape to watch if you want a feel for what Archer could do as a multi-dimensional threat.  The routes are still developing and so are the hands, but there's little doubt what kind of weapon Archer can be when healthy.  

He could get taken on day two of the draft.


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