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Steelers Take DE Tuitt and RB Archer

Pittsburgh takes DE Stephon Tuitt from Notre Dame with their second round pick, and RB Dri Archer from Kent State at the end of the third round.
With two impact defenders already in the fold, the Pittsburgh Steelers set their sights on electrifying playmaker Dri Archer with the No. 97 overall pick in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft. A consensus All-American as a junior running back/wide receiver in 2012, Archer played through injuries last season but still averaged 7.8 yards per carry and led the team with 11 total touchdowns in 10 games.

With his explosive speed and versatility, Archer has elicited comparisons to Tavon Austin, the No. 8 pick of the St. Louis Rams in the 2013 draft. While his size — he’s 5-8, 173 pounds — is a concern and his future role is unclear, there’s no debating Archer’s combination of speed, quickness and athleticism.

"He lined up at tailback, but he did move around,” NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock said. “The question is, how do you manufacture touches with this guy? He's a speed guy, but at 173 pounds there aren't a lot of guys like that in the NFL. Some of the guys that remind me of him are Tavon Austin, Dexter McCluster and Ace Sanders."

Archer ran the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.26 seconds) at the NFL combine and ranked among the top running backs with a 38-inch vertical jump (4th), a 4.06 in the 20-yard shuttle (2nd) and a 6.86 in the three-cone drill (4th). Those raw skills can be put to use in Pittsburgh, both offensively and on special teams.

Archer was named the Mid-American Conference special teams player of the year in 2012 and was a semifinalist for the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player. He returned three kicks for touchdowns that season and added another long return score (on just two attempts) last season. He's an intriguing addition to the Steelers' offense.

Including Archer, the Steelers have managed to inject plenty of upside into a roster that sorely needed it in this draft.

First-round pick Ryan Shazier has elite speed and sideline-to-sideline range and is a “defensive playmaker,” coach Mike Tomlin said, who can rush the passer and drop back to defend the pass. He’s been clocked at 4.38 in the 40-yard dash and is a decorated and productive linebacker with 44.5 career tackles for loss and 14 sacks.

Second-round pick Stephon Tuitt was an ideal fit for the Steelers as a 6-5, 304-pound defensive end with big upside and athleticism. He could contend for a starting job as a rookie at a position in need of an upgrade after losing three key players this offseason. Tuitt was viewed by some as a first-round talent all the skills to thrive in a 3-4 defense.

--Dustin Hockensmith, Pennlive.com

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