Breaking down the top wide receivers for the 2022 NFL Draft

Breaking down the top wide receivers for the 2022 NFL Draft

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

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

#12
Pos: WR
Ht: 6030
Wt: 213
DOB: 5/2/_
Eligible: 2022
Glen Ellyn, IL
Glenbard West High School

Alec Pierce
Cincinnati Bearcats


Pros:

Leinweber: Lining up on the outside and in the slot, Pierce finds most of his success on vertical routes. He is tall which translates to a big catch radius, making late adjustments and hauling in off-target passes. Pierce wins in the air, displaying good ball tracking and strong hands to hang on to the ball through contact. His speed is very good, getting behind zone coverage and threatening man defenders. He attacks blindspots on vertical routes. Pierce is a sharp route runner, paying attention to detail and possessing sufficient hip sink to get into breaks at his size. Varying his speed manipulates defenders and he has good ankle flexion to make 45-degree cuts instantly, winning on corners and posts. Against zone, he manipulates space downfield. Finishes runs instead of going out of bounds.

Ezring: The 2020 Cincinnati Bearcats’ were one of the best teams in college football. Alec Pierce was arguably the program’s top pass-catcher last season. The big-framed receiver boasts notable explosiveness, lateral burst and straight-line speed. He stacks defensive backs early and forces them into a low-shoulder position on vertical patterns. In his releases, Pierce uses jab steps, head movement, body fakes and hands to keep his frame clear of contact and lull defenders into false steps. Against off coverage, Pierce closes distance before sinking his hips and making cuts off his opponents’ toes. The Cincinnati standout maintains separation after gaining a step or winning leverage. He regularly dips his shoulder to avoid physicality up his stem and before his break. 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; similarly, he has the body control and outstanding catch radius to high point or adjust to errant passes. Pierce uses his large frame to shield the ball at the catch point. His overall athletic profile enables him to make big plays after the catch. The talented receiver has special teams experience in high school and college. The Illinois native can be a vertical threat as a rookie thanks to his size, speed and hands; he may develop into a well-rounded starter.

Cons:

Leinweber: Does not always play to his size which is especially apparent as a blocker where he lacks urgency, being too passive. Pierce lets defenders get their hands on him off the line and is not proactive with his own hands, failing to create separation with physicality. He does not adapt to defenders in his way over the middle, having route timing thrown off severely by it. Limitations due to his size hurt his explosiveness out of breaks. Has to make an effort to get both hands on the ball consistently.

Ezring: Although Cincinnati’s top pass-catcher has a clear projection to the next level, certain areas of his game are unproven. Pierce’s limited film against hard press coverage leaves an unknown looming over his profile. When he does go against physicality, he hesitates before contact and leaves his routes underdeveloped. As a route runner, Pierce does not play to his size. His timing is regularly disrupted by contact; likewise, physicality to his chest allows defenders the chance to recover and stay in phase. At the top of his route stem, Pierce loses speed through sharp cuts as he fails to consistently sink his hips; similarly, his balance and fluidity on hard-breaking routes are unreliable. His deceleration is slow on curl routes. What’s more, most of Pierce’s salesmanship takes place at the line of scrimmage. Moreover, the Cincinnati standout’s tendency to run into his teammates indicates he has an improper understanding of spacing in route combinations. Pierce is generally too late to employ his hands as a route runner. Additionally, the Illinois native is a disappointing blocker who plays with underwhelming effort. He takes poor angles to contact and lacks notable 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:

Leinweber: Wideout who brings prototypical size and very good speed at the position. Pierce finds success downfield, winning in the air and manipulating space to get open. He needs to play more aggressively and up to his size in all phases of the game. Pierce projects as a backup Z receiver to start his career as he gets stronger. He will have to contribute on special teams. He has the traits to be a starting wideout in a vertical passing attack by his second NFL season. 

Ezring: One of the nation’s top senior wide receivers, Alec Pierce is a true vertical threat with impressive 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 can find an NFL field early in his career thanks to his athleticism and reliable skillset. In the league, Pierce projects as an immediate role player; he has high-level 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. 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. 


One-Liners

Leinweber: Vertical wideout with great size, a big catch radius and very good speed. Needs to play with more physicality.

Ezring: 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.

Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

Leinweber: 7.3 / 8.3

Ezring: 7.4 / 8.6


#12
Pos: WR
Ht: 6030
Wt: 213
DOB: 5/2/_
Eligible: 2022
Glen Ellyn, IL
Glenbard West High School

Alec Pierce
Cincinnati Bearcats


Pros:

Leinweber: Lining up on the outside and in the slot, Pierce finds most of his success on vertical routes. He is tall which translates to a big catch radius, making late adjustments and hauling in off-target passes. Pierce wins in the air, displaying good ball tracking and strong hands to hang on to the ball through contact. His speed is very good, getting behind zone coverage and threatening man defenders. He attacks blindspots on vertical routes. Pierce is a sharp route runner, paying attention to detail and possessing sufficient hip sink to get into breaks at his size. Varying his speed manipulates defenders and he has good ankle flexion to make 45-degree cuts instantly, winning on corners and posts. Against zone, he manipulates space downfield. Finishes runs instead of going out of bounds.

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