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Steelers draft Kent State speedster Archer in 3rd round

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With a coveted big receiver still on the board, the Steelers decided to go the totally opposite direction, and position.

The Steelers selected diminutive, yet speedy third-down-type running back Dri Archer from Kent State with their third-round pick Friday despite Clemson's 6-foot-5 wide receiver Martavis Bryant — a player the Steelers liked — still on the board.

“No. 1, I think Coach (Mike) Tomlin will say the same thing and that's we are looking for good football players,” Steelers running back coach James Saxon said. “We want players to come in here and help contribute to win. This kid, no question, has that type of ability.”

With Archer, it's all about the speed for the 5-8, 173-pounder.

Archer ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the combine (second-fastest recorded time since 2006), but some scouts timed him at a sub-4.2.

“The kid can run,” Saxon said. “That's obvious, and you can see that on tape and there's no denying that. The kid is a special football player with the ball in his hand.”

Archer had a solid career at Kent State catching 99 passes and 12 touchdowns and rushing for 2,342 yards and 24 touchdowns on 325 carries. He battled through injuries his senior year that limited his effectiveness.

“It's a dream come true,” Archer said. “I know I am going to be with a great organization.”

Archer is the kind of player that offensive coordinator Todd Haley has tried to integrate into his offense ever since arriving with the Steelers before the 2012 season.

The Steelers drafted Chris Rainey that year with thoughts of him playing the role of third-down and change-of-pace back, but that didn't work out, and the Steelers released him after his rookie year.

The Steelers tried veteran LaRod Stephens-Howling last year, but the veteran was lost for the season in the opener, leaving the role unfilled.

“Whatever way we can find to get this kid the ball or to have involved in our offense, we are going to do that,” Saxon said.

“Todd Haley is going to do a great job with that and we are all going to get together and get this guy in right place.”

Archer will also fill the need of kickoff returner for the Steelers even though he didn't participate much in special teams during his senior year. He returned only two kicks, but one he took back 100 yards for a touchdown.

“This organization just got another potentially great football player,” Saxon said. “He is going to be a dynamic football player with his hand in the ball.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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