Matt Waldman’s Pre-NFL Draft Scouting Report of #Colts WR Alec Pierce


Alec Pierce is off to a good start in Colts training camp. Matt Waldman shares his pre-draft scouting profile of Pierce, who has multiple paths to contribute with Matt Ryan at the helm. 

If you want A LOT more reports, cheat sheets, rankings, and football analysis of over 150 rookie prospects at the skill positions (QB, RB, WR, and TE), just head over to this link and download the 2022 RSP.

WR Alec Pierce Scouting Report

RSP Ranking: WR7
Height: 6-3 Weight: 211 School: Cincinnati
Comparison Spectrum: Justin Jefferson – X – Marquez Callaway
Depth of Talent: 82.8 = Rotational Starter: Executes at a starter level in a role playing to their strengths.

Games Tracked

The Elevator Pitch for Pierce

There’s some Justin Jefferson to Pierce’s game. Both players are better athletes than many who don’t study the tape might have expected. Both are skilled vertical weapons due to their hands, speed, and timing, and
toughness at the catch point. Pierce is maybe a half of a step slower with his top gear, but he’s quicker, taller, bigger, and he jumps 3.5 inches higher. Jefferson is better after the catch and a better overall route runner from release work to his breaks.

Still, Pierce’s upside should not be taken lightly. He has the skills to develop into an NFL starter with big-play ability—even if he’s considered a 1-A/1-B or even the No.2 option in the offense to an established primary weapon. If Pierce can become as good at the line of scrimmage as he’s shown as a ball winner in the air against tight coverage, he will earn a starting opportunity that could translate to a long and productive career in the NFL.

Where Is Pierce Inconsistent?

His pace variation and use of “patient but sudden” movements are things he needs to cultivate with his release work to add craft and believability to his routes and releases.

What Is the Best Scheme Fit?

Cincinnati moves Pierce to different parts of the alignment—inside trips, the slot, and split wide.

What Is Pierce’s Ceiling Scenario?

Pierce could have a similar role as Justin Jefferson in the Vikings’ offense although not quite the same production upside. Think of Pierce with top 15-20 production potential within 2-3 seasons.

What Is Pierce’s Floor Scenario?

Pierce fails to build on his releases and routes and winds up a reserve who bounces around the league.

Physicality

Pierce is a well-built receiver who can win the ball in the air against contact and has the speed and quickness to stretch the field. He has special teams experience as a coverage player on kicks and even had some work at linebacker as a freshman.

Standout Technical Points

Pierce, who often earned a step or two on his opposition, executes the jump-back like a pro and it makes some
of his targets appear easier than they really were.

Standout Conceptual Points

Pierce has a good foundational understanding of how to run routes against zone coverage.

Standout Intuitive Points

Pierce needs to develop a better feel for attacking press coverage. The better he does this, the better his career
arc in the NFL.

Build

A sturdy receiver with the length and frame to be aligned on the perimeter in the NFL.

Releases

Pierce has a staggered stance with an 80/20 weight distribution favoring the front foot. His arms are uncrossed and his hands rest tight to each other at his front knee. He releases with no wasted motion and rolls off the front foot. Pierce gets his head and shoulders over his knees and pumps his arms with a sprinter’s gait out of his stance.

Against tight man-to-man, Pierce will steal a release. His release movements are patient but sudden. He has a foot switch, quick-two, and a hesitation. Pierce attacks with his feet first and then uses his hands to counter the defender’s.

Pierce has a double-up, but it needs more patience and suddenness so there’s a greater variation of pacing with the move. His three-quick is competent but could use a little more pace variation as well. He’ll also use a shoulder dip to avoid a defender’s hands when releasing outside.

Pierce has a shed and a wipe as counters. He combines a stick and wipe against man-to-man coverage when setting up a release to the inside. He has a swat when jammed at the chest, but his outside arm needs a better move than to reduce the shoulder further. At this point, a swim would be a better idea.

Separation

Pierce can eat up the cushion of an off-coverage defender playing 10 yards off the line with long strides and
earn 2-3 steps on the cornerback. He has the short-area quickness to earn separation early in his release and manipulate an opponent moving forward. He’ll also stack a defender with an early release.

As an open-field runner, Pierce’s acceleration earns him separation against defenders over the top who he can pass with a turn inside of them, leaving them at a standstill and splitting a safety coming across the field.

Route Stems

Pierce sells his stems with widening, diving, or running at the defender based on the leverage of the
defender and the route he’s running.

Route Setups

He’ll widen a stem to take the back of an off-coverage defender to set up the post. He has an inset after
earning separation with an inside release and setting up a sail route. However, he must sell the movement with his head turned inside or a savvy cornerback won’t come off his guess that what he saw on film will be a sail route.

He’ll also stairstep his defender on curls and digs. On short out-breaking routes, he’ll work into the toes of the off-coverage defender.

Route Breaks

Pierce gets his head around to the quarterback out of his breaks. With shorter routes like jerk routes, he
can drop his weight into the first turn and then make a carioca turn with a good toe-point of the inside leg to set up the break back to the outside.

His turns on speed breaks are sharp enough for flat breaks thanks to the drive and line steps. He needs to make it a habit to use sudden turns on speed breaks. He has lapses where he turns his head and then turns his chest after a step or two.

He also has reps where he turns the chest with his head, but he can combine the movements as a habit and with greater suddenness if he remembers to punch the sideline arm back as he breaks. This will get him turning quickly.

Zone Routes

Pierce understands that when he’s running an intermediate route against a high-low zone with safety shaded
inside, and a corner shaded outside that he needs to influence both defenders. He angles his stems with a nice dive to the inside of the shallow corner while flattening out his stem towards the safety to sell the vertical before breaking on the sail or out route.

He tempos his breaks when working between zone defenders. Once he’s cleared the defense into an open zone on a concept like Mesh, he’ll settle into open space to present a stationary target for his quarterback. He doesn’t show his eyes to the quarterback until he has cleared the defenders in the passing lane.

Route Boundary

Pierce can extend his frame for the ball and drag his feet behind to remain inbounds against tight
coverage. He’ll also toe-tap as necessary. When playing in the two-minute drill against tight coverage, Pierce will embed a lean towards the boundary after the catch to ensure that he gets out of bounds and stops the clock.

Pass Tracking

Pierce has elite tracking skills. He can make a back-shoulder turn against tight coverage while fading to the
boundary and extend one arm wide of his frame to catch a target underhand while taking contact to his lower legs. He’ll secure the ball while extending away from the defender and remain inside the boundary. He can high-point and snatch the ball to his frame.

Hands/Catch Radius

Pierce extends his arms away from his frame and will attack with an overhand position without
clapping onto the ball. He’ll use an overhand position with targets at the numbers, especially when forced to leave his feet and turn towards a target thrown behind him.

Position

Pierce has excellent timing with back-shoulder fades against tight coverage. He also has effective jump-back
technique on underthrown targets to leap without a notable lean backward so he can catch the ball at the highest point.

He’ll also turn his frame through the leap so he’s attacking the ball and turning his back to the defender.

He’ll finish the play with an attempt to embrace the fall so he doesn’t land on the football. If he must land on the ball, he’ll use his free arm to brace some of the contact with the ground to mitigate the impact of his frame on the ball.

Focus

Pierce performs a lot of subtle maneuvers in scenarios that require precision and focus against tight coverage,
contact, and tracking tight to the boundary. On screens, Pierce has shown he can extend for the ball and take a wrap from a defensive lineman earning a chest-to-chest position on the wrap.

Transitions

Pierce will transition during his catch when in a wide-open zone so he can immediately work downhill. He’ll
keep his eyes on the ball and look it into his hands as he turns his frame away from the target.

Elusiveness

He has a quick spin, but he tends to rely on dipping away from pursuit.

Vision

Pierce has a good understanding of where to transition downhill as an underneath receiver.

Power

Pierce finishes with a low pad level or leads with his pads with the timing to ride over the top of contact. When he’s not dropping the pads, he will use a stiff arm to ward off reaches.

Direct Contact Balance

Pierce will take direct contact from a defensive back, drop his pads into the contact and ride over the top for extra yards.

Indirect Contact Balance

Pierce will also take a glancing shot from a defensive back, drop his pads into the contact and ride over the top for extra yards.

Blocking

Pierce displays effort as a backside blocker, earning position chest-to-shoulder and running his feet to drive the outside linebacker or safety into the line. When squaring a defender at the line of scrimmage as a backside blocker, Pierce gets his hands tight and into the chest of the opponent. He’ll roll through his hips against linebackers and while still driven back due to the size mismatch, he minimizes some of the push due to his strikes and position.

As a stalk blocker, Pierce will close the gap with the defensive back, earn a chest-to-chest position, and punch with tight hands into the opponent’s chest, and roll through his hips.

Pierce moves well laterally and maintains a square position with his feet under his pads with a good width. When he punches, he moves his feet when shielding opponents and follows up with a second punch.

Pierce executes Most Dangerous Man and Man Over Me blocks with equal urgency. When he misses an opportunity to square the safety on Most Dangerous Man Assignments, he still has the wherewithal to hook an opponent, move his feet, and turn the man’s hips away from the ballcarrier.

Ball Security

Pierce tucks the ball to his sideline arm and high to his chest. He can take a hard shot to the ball-carrying
arm and maintain possession.

Durability

Missed a game and a half with a left shoulder injury in October of 2020. Prior to this game, he missed a month with a knee injury.

Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice

Pierce’s value may trend upward after a good Combine performance. I’m guessing he’ll be
a good value in the first half of the third round. It may take him a year or two to break through as a starter.

Boiler/Film Room Material (Links to plays): Alec Pierce Highlights

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If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

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Categories: 2022 NFL Draft, Matt Waldman, Players, RSP Publication, RSP Samples, Wide ReceiverTags: , , , , , ,

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