Pittsburgh Steelers Picks Bryant and Archer Bring More Speed


The Pittsburgh Steelers scored more than 20 points in each of their last nine games of the 2013 season–a closing stretch that brings optimism to the 2014 season. But the Steelers aren’t looking to maintain that production, they’re looking to increase it, by an infusion of speed.

The losses of Emmanuel Sanders and Jericho Cotchery didn’t make those plans any easier this offseason. In free agency the Steelers looked for some speedy replacements. Lance Moore has years of experience in getting behind defenses and also has the quickness to work underneath. Darrius Heyward Bey owes his entire career to his legendary speed–his production has never been able to keep up.

The quest for speed didn’t stop after free agency. In this month’s 2014 NFL Draft, the first two offensive players selected by the Steelers go a lot faster on the football field than they did on the draft board.

When it comes to the rate at which human beings can move, third round selection Dri Archer is impressive. He ran a 4.26 at the 2014 NFL Combine. To quote the 2005 football flick The Longest Yard, “He’s so fast he makes fast people look not fast.”

Not to be outdone, 4th round selection Martavis Bryant ran in the low 4.4s as a 6’4″ 211 pound “redzone target.” If his other skills translate to the pro game, Bryant will be an endzone target from the 40 yard line, forget the 20.

I’m sure that Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley cannot wait to use all of their new toys. Even second year man Markus Wheaton, a prime candidate for a drastic increase in contribution, is a speedster himself.

The acquisition of speedy offensive skill players this offseason makes the Steelers’ offense as dynamic as any offense in the league–on paper. The hope is that all of this speed, these low 40 times, the excitement translates to winning football games.

There is no question that Archer and Bryant can run extremely fast, but while such speed is coveted to the game of football, it by no means guarantees success. Look at Bey himself. Outside of one good season, the former first round pick has done very little to establish himself as a serviceable starter, let alone a game changer.

Antonio Brown’s speed changes games, Mike Wallace’s speed changed games. Limas Sweed’s did not, Chris Rainey’s did not. Sweed, in fact, had a nearly identical profile to Bryant when the Texas product was coming out of college. Sweed, 6’4″ 212 pounds, ran just 4 hundredths of a second slower than Bryant.

Many a drafting GM or coach has been overly concerned with raw speed. Bey’s Raiders constantly seem to be over-drafting players due to their elite speed. Archer and Bryant seem to be good values where they were drafted, but they’ll need to be good all-around football players to be great values.

Speed is sexy. We, as fans, like 40 times and long touchdowns. We also like players that learn the playbook and perform when they’re under the lights. The offseason theme for the offense is clear: score more – score fast. Let’s hope the regular season theme is the same, and that these new additions can start playing winning football faster than Heyward Bey could run in a straight line for 40 yards while wearing a pair of corporate sponsored compressions shorts.