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Scouting The Draft: Dri Archer, RB, Kent State

Kirk Irwin

For the past two years, I have had my eye on Dri Archer, a running back for the Kent State Golden Flashes. Archer is short, just 5'8" and 175lbs., which is almost identical to Tavon Austin of the St. Louis Rams in both size and playing style. Although Archer is primarily a running back, can split out wide to receiver, and is one of the best and most electric kickoff returners in college football. In my mind, Archer is a cross between Austin and Denard Robinson with a hint of Darren Sproles as a receiver.

Rushing Receiving KR
Season GS GP Att Yds Avg TD Long Rec Yds TD Att Yds Avg TD Long
2009 0 11 58 246 4.2 1 28 19 231 3 11 266 24.2 0 77
2010 0 10 40 140 3.5 1 17 16 75 1 22 451 20.5 0 39
2012 14 14 159 1,429 9 16 87 39 561 4 16 591 36.9 3 99
2013 10 10 68 527 7.8 6 74 25 327 4 2 128 64 1 100
Totals 24 45 325 2,342 7.2 24 87 99 1,194 12 51 1,436 28.2 4 100

This past year, Archer had a bit of a down year as he badly injured his ankle on his first offensive series of the season. However, he is not known for being injury prone. With Archer's size, I think people tend to get too caught up in how short he is, similar to what was said about Austin last year. However, there are so many "short" and "undersized" players in the National Football League that I believe any analysis based upon that is fatally flawed. There's a difference between "short" and being "small," and Archer simply doesn't play small. Stephen Hill is tall but plays small; Steve Smith is short but plays big. Archer is the same way. Austin hasn't had an injury problem since entering the NFL, neither has Sproles and other similarly sized players. I think it's lazy analysis to assume Archer, or any other short person, necessarily will.

In 2012, Archer was the MAC Special Teams Player of the year and was on the All-MAC first team as a running back and kick returner. He was a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, and was a consensus All-American. Archer expects to run under a 4.3 in the 40 yard dash, and has reportedly been timed running a 4.21, which would break Chris Johnson's combine record. He has excellent balance and patience and can turn on the jets to outrun everyone on the field. He isn't much of a between-the-tackles running back, so he'd be best used in tandem with Chris Ivory rather than as a workhorse. In the fourth or fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Jets should select Dri Archer. He's the playmaker the team desperately needs.

You can view some of his game tape here.