NFL teams need a variety of skill sets to play an effective offense. While explosive playmakers get all the highlights, having players who keep the offense on the field and moving forward are important as well.
Those big plays only happen a couple times a game, but the routine plays that make an offense functional can be much more important.
Cincinnati wide receiver Alec Pierce is certainly capable of generating those big plays — he did average 17.5 yards per catch for the Bearcats — but his real value was keeping the offense moving. Pierce just has a knack for finding the soft spots in coverages and is willing to help his teammates make plays.
The New York Giants offense need to fill out their wide receiver depth chart, and they could also use a player to help keep their offense on the field. Could Pierce be an under-the-radar answer to some of the Giants’ problems?
Prospect: Alec Pierce (12)
Games Watched: vs. Eastern Carolina (2021), vs. Indiana (2021), vs. Notre Dame (2021), vs. Tulane (2021)
Red Flags: Knee/Shoulder (2020)
Games Played: 34
Yards (YPC): 1,851 (17.5 per catch)
Games Played: 14
Yards (YPC): 884 (17.0 per catch)
Best: Size, route running, blocking, quickness, ball skills
Worst: Fluidity, hand strength
Projection: A Flanker or Big Slot in a West Coast or Spread influenced offense.
Alec Pierce is a good-sized, savvy, and competitive wide receiver prospect from the the university of Cincinnati.
Pierce has good size to play a variety of roles in an NFL offense at 6-foot-3, 208 pounds. He played out of several alignments in Cincinnati’s offense, lining up as the X, Flanker, and Slot receiver, and played a variety of roles in the Bearcats’ passing offense.
Pierce has a variety of strategies for releasing off the line of scrimmage depending on the coverage he is facing. He uses a quick stutter-step to freeze cornerbacks in tight man coverage, while also showing a good use of hands to create separation down the field against man coverage.
He is a savvy route runner and has a good understanding of defensive coverage schemes. Pierce is routinely able to find the voids in zone coverage, or uncover against man coverage. Likewise, he also shows a good understanding of how to use his routes to create traffic for defenders – and opportunities for his teammates.
Pierce does a good job of locating the ball down the field, waiting until the last second to get his head around and quickly picking up the ball in flight. From there, he does a good job of tracking the ball in the air and making adjustments to give himself the best opportunity to make the catch. He has good body control and appears to be a “hands” catcher. Pierce does a good job of putting his body between any defenders and the ball as well as extending to maximize his catch radius.
He is also a good blocker on the perimeter and at the second level. Pierce wastes no time transitioning from his route to blocking the nearest defender on running plays or to help a teammate in a run-after-catch situation. He’s a competitive blocker who gives effort on every rep.
Pierce is a bit of an awkward athlete. He lacks true fluidity in motion and his lower body appears stiff at times. That can cause him to lose his balance when playing through tight traffic. Likewise, he doesn’t have the ability to drop his hips and change his center of gravity when he needs to make sharp breaks. Pierce also lacks great explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and out of his breaks. That can cause him to “roll” a bit as he needs a step to get up to speed, giving quicker DBs a chance to recover.
Pierce has good ball skills, but he can also be prone to having the ball knocked away at the last second, calling his hand strength into question.
Overall Grade: 7.0
Pierce projects best as a number 2 or number 3 receiver in a modern offense which incorporates elements of West Coast, Spread, or Air Raid offenses.
He has the ability to line up as both a Flanker or Big Slot and should be moved around the offensive formation to make best use of his size and route running. Pierce will probably make most of his plays as a possession receiver and could be a good option to keep an offense on schedule or convert key third downs. He has the ability to stretch the field, but being able to separate against man coverage, or find voids in zone coverages, will be more valuable on a down-to-down basis. He could also have upside in the endzone at the fringes of the Red Zone. Pierce’s ability to find weaknesses in coverage or uncover quickly could be useful where the game starts to speed up.
Pierce is likely best lined up off the line of scrimmage in the Slot or as a Flanker to keep him out of press-man situations against defenses’ top cornerbacks. He was able to separate against tight man coverage in college, but top NFL athletes will be another matter altogether.
Pierce also has upside as a blocker at the second level or on the perimeter. He’s an unselfish player and his understanding of defenses and angles are a boon in this phase of the game. Pierce’s competitiveness also shows up in the run game, and he is completely willing to help his teammates succeed.