Considered a sleeper wide receiver prospect earlier in the year, Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce is now firmly a fixture in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Possessing an alluring blend of size, speed, and ball skills, his performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine have helped cement him as a Day 2 prospect. One look at his scouting report reveals why Pierce is attracting attention in a deep wide receiver class.
Alec Pierce NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Cincinnati
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’2 3/4″
- Weight: 208
- Wingspan: 78 3/8″
- Arm: 32 5/8″
- Hand: 9″
Alec Pierce Scouting Report
While they were the first Group of Five team to make it to the College Football Playoff, Cincinnati was not your regular AAC outfit. The Bearcats were a team loaded with 2022 NFL Draft prospects. From the front to the back of the defense, and across the offensive playmakers, the draft will be filled with Cincinnati prospects.
Given those NFL Draft prospects from Cincinnati, wide receiver Pierce has his work cut out to make a name for himself in a deep pass-catching class. However, his scouting report reveals that he has an eye-catching skill set that can’t be matched by many of his contemporaries in the class.
At just under 6’3″ and 208 pounds, Pierce has decent size for the outside receiver position in the NFL. In addition to his height, the Cincinnati WR has decent length for his size, with 32 5/8″ arms measured at the NFL Combine. Subsequently, he poses an impressive contested-catch threat. During an interview last season, head coach Luke Fickell said, “Those 50/50 balls become a little more 60/40, even 70/30.”
Size, ball skills, and deceptive speed
Having size and length, however, doesn’t get the job done. You have to know how to use those weapons at your disposal. Here, Pierce is impressive. He displays good ball-tracking ability, body control to adjust, and routinely plucks the ball out of the sky with excellent pass-catching technique. The Cincinnati WR then cajoles the ball into his chest for maximum ball security.
So, at 6’3″, with impressive pass-catching skills, is the Cincinnati WR a “screw it, Pierce is down there somewhere” type of possession receiver? Well, actually, no. There’s so much more to his game. The impressive pass catcher has some exceptional athletic ability that you would not ordinarily expect from a man of his size.
Pierce ran a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash in high school. Furthermore, he posted impressive distances in both the long and triple jumps. You can expect him to test off the charts at the NFL Combine, with the expectation that he comfortably surpasses that high school 40-yard dash figure.
The speed is apparent from the minute that you turn on the tape. However, he’s more than just a straight-line speed threat. Pierce can vary his speed to deceive coverage. He’s adept at throttling down and then bursting with excellent acceleration. Watch his footwork upon release. He has fast feet that leave you in a blur if you try and keep up with them.
Pierce’s NFL Draft outlook
Pierce’s athletic ability is also apparent in his change of direction and ability to stop on a down. There were multiple examples on tape of him being able to plant and cut to pick up extra yardage after the catch. He also showcases the ability to turn rapidly and present his numbers to the quarterback on short throws.
Having played both outside the numbers and in the slot, Pierce offers an element of versatility at the NFL level. He should be a sought-after prospect in this class with versatility, an impressive and deceptive skill set, and incredible on- and off-field intelligence. While much will change between now and the 2022 NFL Draft, Pierce has the potential to ascend as high as Round 2 in this class with an impressive performance in Mobile.
Areas for improvement
Pierce has an impressive all-around NFL Draft scouting report. He possesses many qualities that will allow him to play the game at the NFL level for many years. Players with his size and speed are rare. However, there are some areas for improvement on the Cincinnati WR’s scouting report.
Although Pierce possesses an impressive athletic profile, he could showcase that more as a route runner. He can round off his breaks rather than be sudden in his movement. Pierce has shown that he can be a twitchy mover, but he needs to ensure that he transitions to his route running.
Furthermore, Cincinnati’s offensive system didn’t require Pierce to run a complex route tree. As a result, this area of his game will require some development at the next level.
While Pierce routinely demonstrates impressive pass-catching skills, there were some examples of concentration drops in the games studied. The Cincinnati WR needs to ensure that he eradicates these from his game.
Pierce’s Player Profile
While there’s no genetic link to athleticism, when your father was a former football player at Northwestern, and your mother was a standout volleyball player at the same program, there’s a chance that even their genes (or their routine) will pass down to you. The Cincinnati WR has been an athletic phenom since he was a high schooler at Glenbard West, competing in track, volleyball, and basketball alongside football.
While he heads to the 2022 NFL Draft as a former Cincinnati WR, Pierce started his football journey as a safety. However, as he developed, it became apparent his stature was more suited to the offensive side of the ball. Pierce tallied over 800 yards on 28 catches with 7 touchdowns during his junior season, earning first-team All-State Class 8A honors.
As a result of his relative inexperience, Pierce was somewhat underrated on the recruiting scene. He was the 174th wide receiver in the 2018 class, a three-star recruit, and not even in the top 1,000 nationally. Despite this, Pierce tallied over 20 offers, with further interest from some bigger Power Five programs. A testament to his exceptional intelligence, his scholarship offers included Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Pierce remained uncommitted during his senior season. In the Glenbard run-centric offense, he tallied just 372 yards and 5 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he added 3 sacks and 4 interceptions and even contributed as a punt returner. Alongside his footballing success, Pierce blossomed as an intellectual, setting his eyes on studying mechanical engineering. Cincinnati offered him the opportunity to combine both athletics and academics.
Pierce’s career at Cincinnati
Although Pierce avoided being redshirted as a freshman, his first-year action in Cincinnati was restricted to special teams. Putting his athleticism to good use, he made 6 tackles on kick and punt coverage. While the Bearcats were unsure of his attributes at wide receiver, head coach Luke Fickell even put him at linebacker during practice for the Military Bowl.
If there were doubts about Pierce’s ability as a pass catcher, they were allayed early in his sophomore season. The Cincinnati WR debuted against UCLA, reeling in a 52-yard pass for his first career grab. Showcasing an ability to impact the game at the highest level, he caught 4 passes for 93 yards against Ohio State. He’d have his first touchdown snag on a 100-plus-yard day against Marshall two games later.
Although he finished second on the team with 37 catches and 2 touchdowns, Pierce led the Cincinnati WR room with 652 yards as a sophomore. As a result, he entered 2020 with high expectations. Unfortunately, injury disrupted his junior season, resulting in just six appearances.
Pierce set a career-high 146 yards on just 5 catches in the AAC Championship Game. Again showcasing his ability against top talent, he snagged a touchdown in the narrow Peach Bowl defeat to Georgia. The Cincinnati WR ended the year with 315 yards from just 17 catches, averaging 18.5 yards per catch and snagging 3 touchdowns.
Pierce’s NFL Draft ascension
With ridiculous speed in his 6’3″ frame, Pierce started a pivotal season for his NFL Draft stock on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list. During the course of Cincinnati’s College Football Playoff campaign, the wide receiver showcased just why he belonged on the list. He racked up 144 yards against Notre Dame, 113 yards with the eyes of College Gameday in attendance against Tulsa, and finished the year with 4 touchdowns in three games.
In the most productive campaign of his career, Pierce tallied 867 yards, 8 touchdowns, and averaged 17.34 yards per catch in his senior season. The Cincinnati WR earned second-team All-AAC honors. More importantly for his NFL Draft stock, Pierce earned a Senior Bowl invite alongside several of his teammates.
Pierce helped elevate his stock in Mobile. He impressed with the ability to be a consistently reliable pair of hands, even in the worst of conditions. At the NFL Combine, he showcased the athletic profile that helps make him an alluring prospect. His 4.33-second 40-yard dash, 10’9″ broad jump, and 40.5″ vertical were among the top numbers for the WR position.
As an ascending prospect, Pierce has the potential to be a Round 2 selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. He currently ranks as the 67th overall prospect on the PFN Top 300 Big Board, but he’s higher than that for two of our draft analysts. As his scouting report suggests, Pierce has the size, speed, and ball skills to be a playmaker at the NFL level for years to come.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Alec Pierce
Positives: Large, athletic receiver with reliable hands. Displays tremendous focus as well as concentration, tracks the pass in the air, and makes a lot of acrobatic receptions with defenders draped on him. Possesses strong hands, snatches the ball out of the air, and shows outstanding eye/hand coordination.
Comes back to the ball, gets vertical, and makes the tough catch in a crowd. Works hard after the catch. Exposes himself to the big hit in order to make the reception and holds onto the ball. Gives effort blocking and gets results.
Negatives: Doesn’t show much quickness or burst in his game despite his 40 time. Stiff and must improve his route running.
Analysis: Pierce was a dominant pass catcher for Cincinnati and is a nice combination of size, athleticism, and dependability. He possesses an upside but must round out his game and consistently play to his measurables.