INDIANAPOLIS: Kent State running back and wide receiver Dri Archer fell just .03 seconds short of fulfilling his prophecy Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Last week, Archer predicted he would break the combine record of 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard dash set by Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson in 2008. Archer didn’t set a new record with his official time of 4.26 seconds, but he made Johnson sweat.
“Can’t lie,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Archer had the [boy] nervous.”
Archer said he posted a personal-best time of 4.21 seconds in the spring of 2012 indoors and on turf at Kent State. That made him think he could make jaws drop during the combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Archer didn’t reach his goal, though he still established this year’s best combine time in the 40 through Sunday. Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks’ 4.33 ranks second.
Linebackers and defensive linemen will participate in on-field workouts today and defensive backs will do the same Tuesday, the final day of the combine. Archer’s time in the 40 could be this year’s best once the dust settles.
NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said Archer’s performance raised his stock.
“He ran fast, almost as fast as Chris Johnson,” Mayock said Sunday during a news conference. “He helped himself. The fact that he can return [kicks and punts] helps him.”
The 5-foot-8, 173-pound Archer could play either running back or receiver in the NFL, though he was grouped with the backs for the combine. His 38-inch vertical jump tied for fourth at the position. He also bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times and posted a 122-inch broad jump.
Mayock believes Archer, a native of Laurel, Fla., could be selected in the middle to late rounds, but it’ll depend on how much use teams think they can get out of him.
“Whenever you get those [small] guys, that 170-plus pounds, the question is how do you use them? Where do you line them up? That’s where the value situation is,” Mayock said. “How many touches can I get him per game? And the more you think you can get him, then the more money you can pay him and the higher you can draft him. The less you think you can get him touches, then his value starts to drop.
“So you look at a kid like that and you go, ‘Is he a fourth-round guy where he’s going to be a situation guy, slot [receiver], motion, hand him the ball?’ You look at [Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dexter] McCluster, you look at [St. Louis Rams receiver] Tavon Austin, and they’re still trying to figure out how to get those guys the ball consistently. So most of those guys typically go around plus or minus the fourth round.”
As a junior, Archer set a KSU single-season record with 23 touchdowns and was named Mid-American Conference Special Teams Player of the Year and first-team All-MAC as a running back and kick returner. Slowed by an injured ankle as a senior, Archer scored 11 touchdowns and was named third-team All-MAC as a receiver and a kick returner.
Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde had hoped to sprint his way into the first round of May’s draft with his performance in the 40. But following a false start, Hyde pulled up on his first attempt after clocking an official 4.66, clutching his left hamstring as he finished. He did not make a second attempt.
“I know how fast Carlos is and I know what he can do,” said OSU linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was watching in his hotel room. “[He’s] like my brother. And when you see your brother go down, it kind of hurts. He’s going to bounce back and do what he has to do.”
The 6-foot, 230-pound Hyde also bench-pressed 225 pounds 19 times, which tied for 13th among running backs, hit 34½ inches in the vertical jump and 114 inches in the broad jump.
If he’s physically able, Hyde will go through the drills he missed at Ohio State’s pro day on March 7.
Mayock didn’t think Hyde’s injury would seriously affect his draft status.
“It’s one thing if something happened like [Oklahoma cornerback] Aaron Colvin at the Senior Bowl where you tear an ACL,” Mayock said. “It’s another thing when you pull a calf or a hammy. It’s a temporary setback. Hopefully he will be ready for the Ohio State pro day.”
Meeting with Browns
Shazier, who played outside linebacker for the Buckeyes, said he had a meeting scheduled with the Browns on Sunday night. A junior from Pompano Beach, Fla., whose father is team chaplain for the Miami Dolphins, Shazier was voted a first-team All-America and finished 15th on Ohio State’s all-time tackle list with 306.
Asked what kind of player he envisions being in the NFL, Shazier said, “A run-and-hit linebacker. I can also go inside and cover good tight ends. I feel like I’m a very versatile player.”
The Browns’ interest in Shazier could be even higher if they part ways with eight-year veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who’s due a $4.1 million roster bonus in March. They presumably are also looking for an upgrade from Craig Robertson, who started 14 games on the inside last season.
Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins didn’t disappoint with his official time of 4.43 seconds in the 40. The 6-1, 211-pound Watkins could be a draft target of the Browns at No. 4 overall if they don’t take a quarterback there.
“To me, Sammy Watkins is what you want,” Mayock said. “I’m not usually a proponent of a top-10 wide receiver, but this kid — he runs fast, he catches the football, he’s explosive. And what’s my favorite thing about him? He has a chip on his shoulder. He has more toughness than most wide receivers have. I think he’s a franchise receiver.”
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam confirmed to USA Today that the team tried to trade for San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh before it hired Mike Pettine as its new coach Jan. 23.
“There was an opportunity there, and it didn’t materialize,” Haslam told USA Today.
A stunning report about the potential trade first surfaced Friday on ProFootballTalk.com. The Browns never denied the report, even though 49ers CEO Jed York did issue a denial via Twitter.
An unnamed league source told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that the Browns view re-signing Pro Bowl center Alex Mack as “priority No. 1.”
On Saturday, Pettine said he was eager to meet with Mack after the 2009 first-round pick returns from vacation in Brazil to sell him on the new coaching staff’s vision for the franchise.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.