In 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected a smaller running back with blazing speed our of the University of Florida. Fans immediately fell in love with his versatility, return skills and the mismatches he will create for opposing defenses. That player was Chris Rainey.
Take away the college, and put in the name Dri Archer, and does that sound familiar? Archer is the latest Todd Haley "skat" back project that he has been seeking since being brought in as the OC for the Steelers.
Rainey wasn't the first, and he isn't the last project that Haley has tried to add to the offense. Last season it was adding Larod Stephens-Howling to the roster, but he didn't last one game before injuring his knee. Now his obsession with the smaller and dangerously fast running backs continue with Archer.
When it comes down to whether Archer can produce in the NFL, that task will rest solely on the shoulders of Haley. When Rainey was the flavor of the day, he was misused and when he entered the game it was obvious that the ball was going to wind up in his hands.
Mismatches were irrelevant because every time he was on the field, Haley was force feeding him the ball. By season's end, fans were sick of Rainey and even more intolerant of Haley's play calling.
Haley is still the most criticized coach on the Steelers' staff, but how he handles Archer will go a long way towards how effective this 2014 Steelers' offense will be.
Archer is athletic enough to play in the slot, and yet still elusive enough to be in the backfield. Give him a glimmer of light and he can go the distance. Archer is a better overall player than Rainey was, but in the Steelers' offense he needs to be utilized to his full potential and not relegated to part time duty where he is only used as a decoy.
The Steelers offense needs explosive plays by dynamic playmakers. Archer fits into both of those categories, if he is utilized correctly.