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What fans can expect from Steelers RB/WR Dri Archer in 2015

After a disappointing rookie season, fans should expect an expanded role for Dri Archer in 2015, and why that could equate to offensive success next season.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

"In the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select running back Dri Archer from Kent State."

As those words were announced last season at the NFL Draft, it nearly broke the internet as fans lamented the fact of their favorite team spending a third round draft pick on someone most dubbed as a gimmick player. Small for a running back in the NFL, Archer possesses something Steelers' offensive coordinator Todd Haley loves - speed.

With the fastest 40-yard dash time in the 2014 Scouting Combine, and the second fastest 40-yard dash time in combine history, Archer has speed and then some. The only issue is the Steelers were unable to harness his speed in any capacity last season.

Archer was absolutely amazing in college at returning kickoffs. Get him in space and watch him work. In the NFL, not so much. Not only have the rules in place been made to essentially eliminate the kickoff from the pro game, on the outside chance Archer was given the chance to return a kickoff it wasn't pretty. By season's end, Markus Wheaton was manning the kickoff return duties.

In the standard 11-on-11 offense, Archer also seemed to stand out like a sore thumb in specific situations. Haley never seemed to get Archer into space after two plays in the preseason sparked fans' interest as they saw the young rookie utilize his speed and elusiveness to give the offense a dynamic edge which hasn't been seen in years. However, when the regular season started those opportunities were slim to none, and even times where Archer was streaking down the sideline wide open, there wasn't much trust between quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Archer.

So, on to 2015. What can we expect from Archer next season? Expect an expanded role in many capacities for No. 13. Mike Tomlin hinted at the annual owner's meeting he is going to give Archer a chance to win the kickoff duties, and possibly the punt return duties as well. I wouldn't hold my breath with the punt return duties, but could see him rebounding and handling kickoffs in 2015.

As for the standard 11-on-11 offense, Archer should be more of a factor, especially in the three games Le'Veon Bell will be missing due to suspension, but let's hope it isn't in the backfield. Fans everywhere saw Archer look completely mismatched when running the ball between the tackles in 2014, which is why the team would be wise to transition him more to a wide receiver role.

Archer has the speed and elusiveness to create mismatches on linebackers, safeties and even some cornerbacks. Archer is best in space, so develop a couple packages which do just that. No, not the simple wide receiver bubble screens, but have Archer working the interior of the defense on those drag plays and deep routes which were successful in 2014.

Whether fans like it or not, Archer isn't going anywhere. Haley has always desired a player like Archer and got his wish in the third round last year. Since he is with the team, Haley and company would be wise to put him in position to make plays, and not to key the defense of his presence whenever he steps on the field. In 2014, Archer had 10 rushing attempts for 40 yards, 7 receptions for 23 yards and a long kickoff return of 23 yards. In 2015, expect those numbers to increase, not just because of an emphasis to get Archer the ball, but as Archer gets acclimated to the NFL he should be able to unleash his speed on opponents and not worry as much about assignment responsibilities.

Despite common dialogue among fans, Archer could be a big part of the Steelers' 2015 offense if utilized correctly.