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WR Alec Pierce Gives Colts the Perfect Complement to Michael Pittman Jr.

With a major need at wide receiver, the Colts selected an athletic wideout to pair with a budding star at the position.

It was no secret going into Friday night what position the Indianapolis Colts would be targeting.

No matter what general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich said about the position, the wide receiver group was severely lacking in high-end talent. Outside of Michael Pittman Jr., the Colts do not have a proven wideout on the roster.

As Day 2 of the NFL Draft began, the Colts had options at wide receiver when it came to the No. 42 overall pick. The blood pressure of many Colts’ fans rose as Ballard traded back to No. 53 with the Minnesota Vikings, adding an extra third-round pick in the process. Would a wide receiver still be available by then?

The answer was yes, and a damn good one at that.

The Colts selected wide receiver Alec Pierce out of the University of Cincinnati with the No. 53 pick. Pierce racked up 106 catches for 1,851 yards (17.5 avg.) and 13 touchdowns in four years with the Bearcats.

“This morning I kind of had a gut feeling on the Colts,” Pierce admitted after he was drafted. “I don’t know what it was, and I did have a buddy predict it. He texted me earlier saying, ‘you’re going to the Colts man. I had a feeling.’ It was awesome. It was really a place I wanted to go. It’s great.”

The thing that jumps out right away about Pierce is his size. At 6’3” and 211 pounds with a 79-inch wingspan, Pierce is a big-bodied receiver with an insane catch radius. The throw does not have to be perfect for Pierce to come down with it.

Pierce also has incredible explosion to his game. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the Combine with a 40.5-inch vertical and 10’9” broad jump. His speed and leaping ability instantly make him a deep threat in the Colts’ offense.

As far as what skills he brings to the wide receiver position, Pierce is the type of weapon the Colts covet. Pierce is a natural catcher of the football, hauling in passes away from his body with sure hands. He has a great release at the line of scrimmage and a knack for high-pointing the ball on deeper routes. His speed allows him to beat defenders over the top and challenge defenses. Pierce is no slouch in the running game either, bringing physicality and willingness to block.

In short, Pierce can do a little bit of everything.

“Versatility,” Pierce said when asked what he brings to Indy. “I think I’m a guy you can put to the boundary and I’m able to beat coverage one-on-one with speed and size being able to go get the ball, being able to stretch the field vertically and hopefully make them have to play safeties over the top and open up the run game.”

Pierce also possesses many of the character traits that the Colts love. He is a very smart young man, graduating from Cincinnati with a degree in mechanical engineering in 3.5 years, when the program takes, normally, five years to complete. Pierce was also a team captain with the Bearcats and played in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, two traits the Colts value highly in their picks.

Below is an excerpt from the Indy Draft Guide on Pierce’s fit with the Colts.

Pierce is the perfect fit for what the Colts are looking for at receiver. He is a dominant field-stretcher that can win with pure speed and athleticism in the NFL. With the Colts desperately needing a Z receiver that can take the top off of a defense, he would be the ideal receiver to pair with Michael Pittman Jr. for the foreseeable future.

Nov 20, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Alec Pierce (12) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the first half at Nippert Stadium.

Pittman burst onto the scene last season, hauling in 88 catches for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. In the Colts’ offense, Pittman plays the “X” wide receiver role – typically a physical, big-bodied wide receiver who lines up on the outside of the formation on the line of scrimmage. The X receiver needs to have a knack for beating man coverage and winning his one-on-one matchup.

In terms of where Pierce will play, he now gives the Colts an exciting player as the “Z” wide receiver. The Z receiver is typically someone with great speed and acceleration, lined up on the opposite side of the formation from the X and a couple of yards off the line of scrimmage. This alignment gives the Z receiver a free release to build speed and allows the receiver to be put in motion to line up in different positions.

It is obvious that Pittman has the potential to be the Colts’ WR1 for a long time, but the Colts needed to add someone to help take the pressure off of Pittman on the outside. This is where Pierce comes in as a fast, big-bodied threat who can take the top off the defense at any time and make leaping grabs deep down the field.

And for Pierce, considering his new quarterback is Matt Ryan, he already knows who he wants to model his game after.

“I loved watching Julio Jones as a kid so that was really awesome to watch Matt Ryan with him and hopefully I can be like a new Julio for him.”

The Colts came into the night needing to bolster their wide receiver group and find a player that would fit alongside Pittman. In Pierce, they did exactly that.

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