Dri Archer grabs attention of NFL

By Nick Shook

Read original post on TheBurr.com

Kent State running back Dri Archer is tripped up by Buffalo linebacker Jake Stockman during first-quarter action at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio, on Saturday, October 26, 2013. The Buffalo Bulls defeated the Kent State Flashes, 41-21. Photo by Ed Suba Jr. of the Akron Beacon Journal. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Kent State running back Dri Archer is tripped up by Buffalo linebacker Jake Stockman during first-quarter action at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio, on Saturday, October 26, 2013. The Buffalo Bulls defeated the Kent State Flashes, 41-21. Photo by Ed Suba Jr. of the Akron Beacon Journal. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

In September of 2012, Dri Archer was just starting a record-breaking season as the Flashes’ do-everything back. Archer already had two kick returns for touchdowns under his belt and was quickly becoming the Flashes’ catalyst. National media took notice, honoring him with weekly special teams and all-purpose awards.

I took to the airwaves and social media to declare Archer the fastest man in college football. At the time, Oregon’s DeAnthony Thomas was the center of attention, even being featured in an ESPN the Magazine article about pure speed in college football. He was the consensus pick for fastest man in the NCAA.

I took to the airwaves and social media to declare Archer the fastest man in college football. At the time, Oregon’s DeAnthony Thomas was the center of attention, even being featured in an ESPN the Magazine article about pure speed in college football. He was the consensus pick for fastest man in the NCAA.

To me, he was the fastest man in college football.

Two years later, that debate was virtually irrelevant.

While he is an excellent athlete, Thomas didn’t quite live up to expectations, due in part to Oregon failing to reach the national title game in consecutive seasons. Meanwhile, Archer finished his historic 2012 season on the sideline with an ankle injury during Kent State’s final drive that ultimately came up short in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. A similar ankle injury hampered him for much of 2013, but his game-breaking speed still gained him an invitation to the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.

Who else was at the combine? You guessed it—Thomas.

Archer went into the combine telling local media that he aimed to break the 40-yard dash recordof 4.24 seconds, set by Chris Johnson in 2008. This was missed by most of the national attention, because Archer comes from little old Kent State—or, as a Fox Sports slideshow said, Kansas State.

But once Archer took off from the starting line in Indianapolis, the whole league was suddenly watching.

Kent State's Dri Archer ducks the ball inside the pylon for a touchdown on a 15-yard run against Towson in the first quarter of a college football game at Dix Stadium on Thursday, August 30, 2012, in Kent, Ohio. Photo by Michael Chritton of the Akron Beacon Journal. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Kent State’s Dri Archer ducks the ball inside the pylon for a touchdown on a 15-yard run against Towson in the first quarter of a college football game at Dix Stadium on Thursday, August 30, 2012, in Kent, Ohio. Photo by Michael Chritton of the Akron Beacon Journal. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Archer ran an unofficial first time of 4.29, the fastest in the combine. His sprint exploded on Twitter, and soon video highlights were posted everywhere, showing Archer’s 5-foot-8, 175-pound frame flying down the white strip of turf.

His second time was unofficially a 4.28, later corrected to an official time of 4.26, the fastest time of any combine participant, and a mere 0.02 off from tying the record.

Archer was officially the fastest man in college football (Thomas ran a 4.33–I was right!), even if his Kent State career was already finished. But more importantly, Archer was suddenly the talk of the NFL.

A draft hopeful at best before the combine, Archer may now be a mid-round pick, an impressive feat for any skilled position player coming out of a mid-major school such as Kent State. NFL veterans and Kent State alumni Julian Edelman and Joshua Cribbs both established long careers in the league, but they went undrafted. Unlike those two, Archer will likely hear his name called on May 9 or 10.

A draft hopeful at best before the combine, Archer may now be a mid-round pick, an impressive feat for any skilled position player coming out of a mid-major school such as Kent State. NFL veterans and Kent State alumni Julian Edelman and Joshua Cribbs both established long careers in the league, but they went undrafted. Unlike those two, Archer will likely hear his name called on May 9 or 10.

Nearly as impressive, Archer, who was knocked by NFL.com scout Nolan Nawrocki as “very short and rail thin with no strength or running power,” benched 225 pounds 20 times, just one rep less than South Carolina defensive end and projected top-10 pick Jadeveon Clowney.

After the combine conluded, Archer was included in nearly every group in “who won the combine?” articles. The following day, Kent State offensive coordinator Brian Rock was swamped with phone calls from NFL scouts and executives. And in both, the answer was the same: he’s the real deal.

Archer’s small build may keep him from getting many carries in the NFL. But as Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal said a week ago on “Sports With Shook,” speed is a rare attribute that has become increasingly deadly in the modern game.

And with Archer being the second-fastest athlete to come through the combine in the last seven years, someone should scoop him up faster than his 100-meter dash time–an event in which he finished second in the state of Florida in high school.

Coming out of Laurel High School, Archer was only offered by one Division I FBS school: Kent State. Come May, I’m certain more than one NFL franchise will be happy to welcome him into their organization.

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