Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp on July 25th, and we are digging up the '32 Scenarios in 32 Days' segment to help us all pass the time. Once a day we will be drafting a potential 2015 season scenario, telling you why it will happen, why it won't and giving you important keys for the scenario to take place.
Scenario: Steelers RB Dri Archer scores his first kick off return TD of his career.
Why it will happen: If you have seen any highlights of Dri Archer's time at Kent State, you would know the skills and speed he has in the open field. Transferring those skills to the NFL wasn't as easy as many fans thought as Archer not only didn't record a kick return touchdown his rookie season, but was demoted and replaced by Markus Wheaton mid way through the 2014 season.
Despite the demotion, the Steelers organization is keeping the door open for Archer to re-gain his position as the team's kick returner in 2015. Archer's speed alone makes him the best option at the position, but the fact he now has a year under his belt will increase his odds at being successful in his sophomore season.
The Steelers kickoff units should improve as well, as they did towards the end of the 2014 season. The team has bolstered their athleticism through the NFL Draft, and as many of these players will be playing on the kick off return teams, it will only increase the odds of Archer getting the space necessary to take one to the house.
Why it won't happen: Yes, Archer's highlight reel from Kent State looked good, but it was also against players who are not NFL caliber players. Throw in the fact the NFL is slowly starting to phase out the kick off return from the game, and you have people questioning where Archer fits in the NFL. The simple rule change of kickoffs going from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line have equated in significantly less kick returns compared to the previous rule, limiting Archer's chances to return kicks.
Archer is one of the fastest men in the NFL, but when playing against players who know how to play their angles, have tremendous speed themselves and know their responsibilities you saw what happened to Archer in 2014 when he was given the chance to return a kick. He simply wasn't successful. In fact, Archer rarely was able to take his return past the 20-yard line, let alone taking a kick the distance.
On top of Archer's rough transition to the NFL level, his kick off return team was hardly the best in 2014. The team rarely registered a quality return, and on top of that was unable to have a kickoff return taken back for a touchdown all of last season. Despite the athleticism of the team being upgraded on many levels, it still seems to be a far cry of where the team is looking to be in terms of having dynamic plays in their kick off return team, and most important, Dri Archer.
Keys: The keys to this scenario are just as much about Archer as they are the Steelers' kickoff return teams. Granted, Archer seemed lost in the kick off return game in 2014, but at the same time there weren't many instances where the return team opened holes for Archer to utilize his speed. If Archer and the return team can be on the same page and create a seam, Archer has the speed to take any play the distance. The Steelers haven't seen a kick off return for a touchdown in a long time, and maybe 2015 Archer will be the one to break their streak.