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Steelers running backs coach James Saxon excited to find ways to get Dri Archer the ball

Saxon spoke to the media after the Steelers made Archer their third round pick (No. 97 overall), noting Archer is a 'potentially great football player.'


PITTSBURGH -- After taking two players who should be integral parts of their defense this year, the Pittsburgh Steelers took an offensive player late in the third round during the NFL Draft in Kent State running back Dri (pronounced Dree) Archer.

The 97th overall pick, a compensatory selection late in the third round, Archer is a small back at 5-foot-8 and 173 pounds with blazing speed. Steelers running backs coach James Saxon said that several scouts timed Archer at a sub-4.2-seconds in the 40-yard dash. Archer noted a different time.

"I was timed a 4.26 at the Combine, but I ran a 4.21 back in college a couple springs ago,'' Archer said. The negligible difference won't make a difference if either are true, and Saxon can't wait to see his new back on the field.

"We're very, very excited,'' Saxon said. "We just got another potentially great football player who is going to be very dynamic with the ball in his hands. So, I'm very excited, and I'm looking forward to working with this young man.''

In 10 games with nine starts at Kent State last season, Archer scored 11 touchdowns. He tallied four as a receiver on 25 catches and six rushing on 68 carries. Archer averaged more than 13 yards per catch and nearly eight yards per rush. He also scored a touchdown on a kickoff return.

"He's going to learn to do a number of different things, and we're going to try to put him in a position where he's going to be able to succeed,'' Saxon said. "So, whatever way we can find to get this kid the ball or to have him involved in our offense, we're going to do that.''

Archer attended high school in Florida, but during the past five years at Kent State he became more knowledgeable about the Steelers.

"I couldn't be more happy than I am right now,'' Archer said. "I really didn't have any expectations, but ... I know I ended up in a great city with a great group of guys. I followed the Steelers a little bit growing up, and I had a chance to meet Coach Tomlin at the Combine. And I know I'm going to a great organization.''

Even though he didn't return kickoffs or punts on a regular basis for the Golden Flashes, Saxon noted that Archer has worked on both and could excel at either with the Steelers.

The Steelers have six picks remaining Saturday. They have one in the fourth (118th overall), two in the fifth (157th and 173rd), two in the sixth (192nd and 215th) and one in the seventh (230th).