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NFL Draft Profile: Alec Pierce, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bearcats

NFL draft profile scouting report for Cincinnati wide receiver, Alec Pierce

i
cincinnati bearcats

#12
Pos: WR
Ht: 6031
Wt: 211
Hand: 0900
Arm: 3300
Wing: 7848
40: 4.33
Bench: N/A
3-Cone: 7.13
Shuttle: 4.28
Vert: 40.5"
Broad: 10'09"
DOB: 5/2/_
Eligible: 2022
Glen Ellyn, IL
Glenbard West High School

Alec Pierce
Cincinnati Bearcats


One-Liners

Although he lacks the desired play strength to stand out as a blocker and work through physical coverage, Alec Pierce is a true vertical threat with impressive speed, size and hands.

Pros:

Cincinnati has become one of the top teams in college football year-in and year-out. Alec Pierce is one of the best prospect on the Bearcats’ offense. The big receiver is explosive, boasting lateral burst and straight-line speed. He stacks defensive backs and forces them into a low-shoulder position on vertical patterns. In his releases, Pierce uses quickness and jab steps to keep his frame clear of contact and lull defenders into false steps or hesitations. Against off coverage, Pierce closes distance before making cuts off his opponents’ toes. The Cincinnati standout maintains separation after gaining a step or winning leverage with his size and speed. He regularly dips his shoulder to avoid physicality up his stem and before his break. He can win with a push-off at the top of his route stem. At the catch point, Pierce plays to his size and is an incredibly reliable hands catcher when open or through contact. He tracks the ball seamlessly and uses his outstanding body control and catch radius to high point or adjust to errant passes. Pierce shields the ball from defenders with his large frame. He is fairly dangerous after the catch. The talented receiver has special teams experience in high school and college. As a blocker, Pierce gives sufficient effort. The Illinois native can be a situational vertical threat as a rookie thanks to his size, speed and hands; he may develop into a well-rounded starter. 

Cons:

Although Cincinnati’s top pass-catcher projects well to the next level, certain areas of his game are unproven. Pierce’s underwhelming film against press coverage looms over his draft profile. He lacks variety in his release package, using a fairly reliable hesitation, jab step and explosion each time. As a route runner, Pierce does not play to his size. When he plays physical defenders, he hesitates before contact and leaves his routes underdeveloped. Defenders stifle him when they play his high shoulder. Pierce’s timing is regularly disrupted by contact; likewise, physicality to his chest allows defenders to stay in phase or recover. His inability to reliably work through aggressive coverage may force coaches to scheme him away from press. At the top of his stem, Pierce loses speed or balance through sharp cuts as he fails to consistently sink his hips and is not the most fluid athlete. He is slow to decelerate on curl routes. What’s more, the Cincinnati standout is generally late to employ his hands as a route runner. Additionally, the Illinois native is a disappointing blocker. He takes poor angles to contact and lacks differentiating play strength. Pierce allows defenders to walk him back; conversely, he lacks the power and grip strength to displace his opponents. Finally, the talented receiver missed time in 2020 with knee and arm injuries. 

Summary:

One of the nation’s top senior wide receivers, Alec Pierce is a vertical threat with burst, speed, size and hands. Although he lacks the desired play strength to impact the game as a blocker and work through physical coverage, the Cincinnati standout plays to his size at the catch point and can find a role in the league early in his career thanks to his athleticism and reliable skillset. In the NFL, Pierce projects as an immediately rosterable player; he has WR2 potential. 

Background: 

Born May 2nd in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Alec Pierce was a standout multi-sport athlete at Glenbard West High School. While he dedicated time to volleyball, basketball and track, Pierce was a two-way star for the football team. In 2016, he was named Illinois High School Football Coaches Association First-Team All-State Class 8A. He also received DuPage County football All-Area team and All-West Suburban Silver honors. That year, he helped lead his team to the Glenbard West IHSFCA Class 8A state semifinals. The Chicago Sun-Times listed him as one of its top ten receivers entering the 2017 season. In his senior year, Pierce built upon an already impressive career. He recorded 25 receptions for 372 yards and five touchdowns; he also posted three sacks and four interceptions and returned punts. His stellar season saw him named MVP of the West Suburban Silver Conference. What’s more, Pierce was an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 8A selection. Further, he was named to the DuPage County All-Area Team, the Suburban Life All-Area team and the league’s first team. Glenbard West won the West Suburban Silver Conference Championship. After his final season, Pierce received a three-star rating from 247Sports Composite Rankings. The same service listed him as the 1164th-overall player nationally, the 174th-best receiver in his class and the 25th-ranked recruit from Illinois in his year. As a freshman at Cincinnati, Pierce played in 11 games. Primarily a special teamer, he recorded six tackles on the season. He practiced at linebacker before the Military Bowl against Virginia Tech. In 2019, Pierce broke out. He played in all 14 games and recorded 13 starts. He led the team with 652 receiving yards and 17.6 yards per catch; he was second on the team with 37 receptions and two touchdowns. A true big-play threat, Pierce made 10 plays of 20 yards or more, seven plays of 30 yards or more and two plays of 50 yards or more. He made three tackles on punt coverage. The Illinois native was named to the 2019 AAC All-Academic Team. Pierce’s playing time was limited by one knee injury and one arm injury in 2020. Through six games, he recorded 17 receptions, 315 yards and three touchdowns. His 18.5 yards per reception were first among the Bearcats; he made six catches of 20 yards or more. After the 2020 season, the standout receiver was featured on Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks” list. In 2021, Pierce helped lead Cincinnati to an undefeated regular-season record and the College Football Playoffs. His performance earned him All-AAC Second-Team honors. He also was Cincinnati’s first CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team honoree since 1997. He recorded 867 yards (15th in Cincinnati single-season history) and eight touchdowns. He is now 15th all-time in career receiving yards for the Bearcats. Part of an athletic family, Pierce’s father was a football player at Northwestern; his mother was a volleyball player for the Wildcats. His brother, Justin, played basketball at William & Mary and North Carolina. His other brother, Caden, is a high school basketball player and golfer. 


Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

7.3 / 8.5

Floor/Ceiling: Possible Special Teamer and Situational Vertical Threat / Wide Receiver Two

Scheme Fit: Vertical Passing Game

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Grade: 3rd Round

Quotes:

"I like watching A.J. Green from his Cincinnati days. I really like watching his film because he can run but also has such great size. I was a big Jordy Nelson fan growing up. I love watching Randy Moss, of course. Recently, I’ve been watching receivers like D.K. Metcalf and Julio Jones. I pretty much like to watch players who are big and can run." -- Alec Pierce on NFL wide receivers he enjoys to watch 

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