Why Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce is a perfect fit for the 2022 NFL Draft

One of the biggest winners of this year’s NFL Scouting Combine was Cincinnati wide receiver Alec Pierce. Pierce flew around the field posting an impressive 40-yard rush time of 4.41 seconds, a vertical of 40.5 inches and an 11-foot-four wide jump. It was quite a day for the 6-foot-3, 211-pound wide receiver who caught 106 passes for 1,851 yards and 13 touchdowns during his college career.

If Pierce wasn’t already on the Green Bay Packers’ radar, he is now. The Packers will likely add a wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft, and Pierce is a perfect match for the team’s physical and athletic thresholds.

Right now, the Packers only have a handful of signed wide receivers on their roster for next season. If they can’t come to an agreement with Davante Adams, the team would have to use the franchise tag to keep the All-Pro wide receiver out of free agency. Green Bay must also decide on Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling – two players who have spent the past four seasons with the Packers but are now set to be free agents.

If Green Bay is unable to bring back its top three passers from last season, Pierce is an intriguing option for several reasons. From an early perspective, he has the potential to contribute to special teams right away. Expect the Packers to be looking for prospects who can give a struggling special teams unit a boost throughout the draft. Pierce certainly ticks that box.

However, Pierce would not be limited to special teams. After watching a movie, one observation I made was that Pierce basically takes all the best traits of Lazard and Valdes-Scantling and lumps them into one player. He has the physical strength of Lazard and also the blistering speed comparable to Valdes-Scantling.

For this article, we’re going to take a closer look at Pierce’s film to learn more about the wide receiver’s perspective and why he would be a good fit for Green Bay. Keep in mind this is just one game, but we can see Pierce’s wide range of skills in his performance against Notre Dame last season.

Let’s start.

Straight away we see that Pierce has no problem accelerating, but here we see how Pierce handles a physical turn in man-to-man coverage. Pierce does a good job of using his hands to fight the jam. He gets the inner liberation he wants because he is running a breaking route. Up the road, Pierce is able to crumble and create separation, even tripping the defensive back a bit. Pierce didn’t run an extensive route tree in college, but this example shows a solid route with good attention to detail with which he can win at the next level.

Pierce will be more effective against the area than the next level man. He shows good mental processing skills to diagnose covers and can hit his cues to put himself in the best position to win the ball. Here we see Pierce using good depth on the hook route and finding a nice pocket in the area. He’s not known for creating much after the catch, but this game shows some potential.

This rep has Valdes-Scantling written all over it. Pierce uses his speed to blow through the defender, and he does it with relative ease. This example shows that his game speed matches his time speed. Even if the corner makes a good play on the ball to force an incompleteness, we see the threat Pierce can pose.

This is the Lazard side of Pierce’s game. Every Packers wide receiver needs to be ready to block in the running game. Pierce is not only willing, but he accepts the responsibility as a chance to show off his size and strength. We see him using good hand placement as a rod blocker so his teammates can gain extra yards. Green Bay will not overlook this aspect of Pierce.

He’s not at the level of Adams’ exit game, but then again, who is he? Pierce showed he could win with his hands and feet at the line of scrimmage against media coverage. Here, his quick feet help him gain outward leverage. His speed then allows him to stack the corner, allowing the quarterback to have an easier throw. At the catch point, Pierce points the ball beautifully. It’s another great example of Pierce’s ability on the court and what he can bring to the Packers’ offense as a vertical threat.

Pierce is not only tough physically but also mentally. Green Bay needs another guy who can operate from below and isn’t afraid to go into midfield. That’s something Pierce could add. He has good mental processing to find holes in covers and has the competitive tenacity to take a hit and bounce back right away.

Let’s end with another strong representative against the press. Again, Pierce primarily uses his feet to get out of the jam. He takes an outside exit and flashes his speed to get over the top so the quarterback can take a hole between the corner and safety. It’s easy to imagine Pierce doing that on the Packers’ offense.

Obviously, Pierce isn’t a perfect prospect, although we’ve only highlighted what he does well. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlen believes Pierce will face a lot of next-level media coverage due to his posting limitations. It’s a valid point as Pierce lacks the elite quickness, despite his outstanding long speed. Pierce will likely struggle against the physical corner early on, but he has the tools to expand and refine his release package.

Pierce will also need to improve his running course. Because he is not very nervous, creating a separation will not be easy. It will depend on the scheme and its ability to do nuanced things that require a lot of detail. Fortunately, Green Bay’s pattern matches Pierce’s profile, and they’re used to getting the most out of their wide receivers even when the limitations are obvious.

Overall, given his strengths and physical characteristics, I think Pierce would be a great second-day addition for the Packers in this year’s draft.