Dri Archer sounded like the extra two-week wait for this year’s NFL Draft was wearing him out.
In a phone interview Monday, the only teams the Kent State running back could recall visiting were the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions. Last month, he told Cleveland.com that the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots were also on that list.
“It’s definitely dragged on longer than it usually does,” Archer said of the run-up to the draft.
Archer’s time might come Friday night in the draft’s second and third rounds, although he dreams of his 4.26 speed in the 40-yard dash sneaking him into Thursday’s first round.
“You always hope for the best, but whatever happens happens,” Archer said. “You can’t really get too mad about what happens.”
Publicity-wise, Archer has benefited from the draft being pushed back to May. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. put him on his “Freak List,” noting his 20 bench-press reps at 225 pounds and 38-inch vertical leap along with his 40 time. ESPN’s Todd McShay had Archer second on his “All-Satellite Team” (best in space) behind LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Kiper rated Archer No. 59 on his top 100 prospects.
The NFL Draft 2014 Preview published by former Pro Football Weekly guru Nolan Nawrocki said that one hand-held watch at the combine clocked Archer in 4.16 seconds and his 18 steps tied Calvin Johnson’s record.
“I’ve been hearing some of that stuff,” Archer said of the 4.16. “You never know what’s true.”
ESPN’s Bill Polian, a former general manager and president of the Colts, Bills and Panthers, doesn’t believe little men like Archer, 5-foot-8 and 173 pounds, are currying more favor in the NFL. But in a conference call Monday, Polian sounded like a fan of Archer, who might be a slot receiver and kick returner in the pros.
“I like him very much,” Polian said. “I think he’s a little fast guy with unique talent. He catches well, he’s got great shake and bake and he’s got great speed.”
In recent years, small players like Dexter McCluster, Tavon Austin, Darren Sproles and Trindon Holliday have found their niche in the league. Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas (5-8½, 174) is projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. But Polian doesn’t think guys built like Archer are making a comeback.
“Despite the fact that the colleges are playing with more and more small guys, there are very few that make it long-term and very few that hold up over time. They tend to become specialized players,” Polian said. “Darren Sproles, he’s the prime example. Prior to that it was Dave Meggett, who was a third-down back. They come along very, very infrequently simply because the beating [they] take is fearsome.
“But this young man from Kent State, there certainly is a role for him in the league and I hope he has a long career.”
Archer, who graduated from Kent State in December, headed home to Laurel, Fla., on Tuesday to watch the draft with his family.
“I’ve met a lot of interesting people in this process,” he said. “I’m just excited to see where I’m going to end up.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the her blog at www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.