Draft capital is king at the running back position, but it isn’t a deal-breaker for players looking to produce. Especially with the relative value of the running back position slowly declining, opportunities are opening up to find players with starting upside farther down the board. With his scouting report, could Florida RB Dameon Pierce be one of those high-value players in the 2022 NFL Draft? Let’s find out.
Dameon Pierce NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Running Back
- School: Florida
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’9″
- Weight: 220 pounds
- Wingspan: 74″
- Length: 30 3/4″
- Hand: 9 3/8″
Dameon Pierce Scouting Report
A select few running backs are popular enough to command early-round interest and earn immediate starting opportunities. However, the vast majority of running backs are not those types. Nevertheless, the nature of the RB position creates an existing opportunity each year. Many teams employ rotations, and even when they don’t, starters can be susceptible to injuries.
The “next man up” mentality is strong at RB. And that’s the avenue through which players like Pierce can emerge. Pierce doesn’t have as much hype as other running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft, nor does he have the outrageous production. But turning on the tape, it’s clear that there’s something there with Pierce — something that may earn the favor of NFL scouts.
Pierce’s athletic profile
At 5’10”, 215 pounds, Pierce has a stout, compact frame that can absorb direct power. With that frame, he withstands contact. He pries through arm tackles with leg churn and has great contact balance as well. The Florida RB can bounce off of surging defenders with his strong center of gravity.
Beyond his frame, Pierce also has some intriguing athletic traits. He has above-average lateral agility. Pierce is surprisingly elusive, with looseness in his hips. He can feign direction changes and manipulate spacing with his footwork.
Pierce also uses his loose hips to slip through gaps and navigate congestion. He shows good lean and balance as a runner — he’s not an upright, north-south ball carrier.
Going further, while Pierce’s short-area burst isn’t elite, he possesses solid long-track explosiveness when he has a runway. Pierce has enough juice to bounce runs to the outside and extend plays in space. While he doesn’t quite have breakaway speed, his long speed is certainly good enough for the position.
Execution beyond the physical traits
For running backs, execution is just as important as athleticism, and even more so at times. Running backs who have both are a tier above, but you have to be able to work with what you have in order to succeed. Pierce appears to have good utility in that regard.
Pierce has a squatty, energetic style as a runner. His fast feet allow him to be somewhat adaptable. The Florida RB has good overall creative capacity. He flashes solid vision and can stick cuts well for his frame. He possesses smooth footwork in the backfield and is composed and rhythmic when approaching holes. Pierce has shown to improvise in spurts. He extends runs with his footwork and instincts, and he’s a physical finisher as well. He consistently lowers his shoulder and finishes forward.
Beyond his ability as a runner, Pierce also brings coveted value on passing downs. He’s an excellent receiver for the position, with a much larger route tree than expected for an RB. He tracks the ball and plays in contact, also showing some nuance as a route runner. Pierce can chop his route stems with quick, sudden feet. He also displays the ability to sink his hips into his stems and employs head fakes as a means of deception.
Moreover, Pierce is a strong pass blocker. He gets after it protecting his quarterback. Pierce has a strong base, consistently squares up, and exerts his power on opponents. He strikes well as a blocker and has good balance when lowering his pads. Additionally, he’s more than willing to serve as a lead blocker on designed runs.
Areas for improvement
Pierce appears to be a very solid all-around back on the surface — but there are still some limitations and areas of inconsistency to address. Most notably, Pierce doesn’t have elite explosiveness. His short-area burst is visibly lacking at times, and he can get run down from behind in the backfield. He needs a runway to gain speed and isn’t naturally spry or twitchy, either. His energetic play pace comes more from effort than athleticism.
As a runner, Pierce’s patience and vision — while solid — can be inconsistent. The Florida RB doesn’t always wait for blocks, at times deferring to lowering his head into contact, passing up opportunities.
He sometimes falls into congestion, passing up chances to break outside into space. When things go wrong early in reps, Pierce isn’t a hyper-consistent creator.
Among other things, Pierce isn’t always as light on his feet or as quick to change directions as you’d like. He’s not a plodding mover, but he sometimes becomes flat-footed when executing cuts. Additionally, Pierce is susceptible to occasional focus drops out of the backfield. Furthermore, as a lead blocker, he can do a better job at sustaining blocks.
Pierce’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
Pierce won’t be the first running back off the board, but there’s always a market for his style in the NFL. He isn’t an elite athlete, but he does have a respectable athletic foundation and above-average burst. He runs with solid pace, balance, and executes cuts and direction changes well enough. Pierce also has the dense frame and the physicality to work through contact.
Going further, Pierce’s profile passes with flying colors in the passing phase. He’s an advanced receiver at the RB position, and he holds strong in pass protection. That three-down utility ensures he’ll have some security at the next level. And his skill set as a runner — combined with his above-average creation capacity — suggests that he can take greater volume than he’s taken in college.
Pierce is at the very least a solid athlete and has one of the more well-rounded profiles in the 2022 NFL Draft. He can provide value on every down, both as a runner and a receiver. And that’s something that not all backs can boast. He profiles as an early Day 3 pick right now, but a strong Senior Bowl showing could earn him greater prestige and vault him into the top 100.
Pierce Player Profile
His production at Florida may suggest otherwise, but Pierce was one of the top-rated running backs in the 2018 recruiting cycle. Listed as a four-star recruit, Pierce was the 112th overall prospect and eighth-best at his position. It was no surprise at the time; Pierce was a record-breaker at Bainbridge High School in Georgia, with 6,779 yards and 92 rushing touchdowns in a four-year career.
Subsequently, Pierce was a highly sought-after recruit. He had scholarship offers from nearly every major school in the Southeast, including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Miami. He was originally an early commit to Alabama in 2016 but later de-committed in May 2017. Pierce took unofficial visits to Auburn and Florida but ultimately decided on the Florida Gators as his college team, as one of Dan Mullen’s first additions.
Pierce’s career at Florida
Eager to follow in the footsteps of players like NFL Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, Pierce jumped at the opportunity to earn an early role in Florida’s offense. Behind a talented offensive line, Pierce had solid production as a true freshman. He logged 69 carries for 424 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.
Pierce’s strong freshman season generated excitement for his future as a potential workhorse back. Unfortunately, that future never materialized in Florida. Instead, Pierce was a rotational back for much of his career — part of Florida’s perpetually deep RB room. He was a marginal producer once again in 2019 and 2020, and his yardage was similar in 2021.
Nevertheless, 2021 was Pierce’s most productive year for other reasons. The Florida RB may have only logged 100 carries for 574 yards, but he also added 13 rushing touchdowns, along with 19 catches for 216 yards and 3 scores.
In a room that included Malik Davis, Nay’quan Wright, Demarkcus Bowman, and Lorenzo Lingard, Pierce managed to carve out a role as a short-yardage back and receiving specialist — a testament to his versatility. That versatility will undoubtedly be coveted at the NFL level.
Pierce’s 2022 NFL Draft ascension
Although he hasn’t lit up the college football stage, Pierce was never impacted by the transition from Kyle Trask to Emory Jones under center. He was able to produce in his role, regardless of his surroundings.
While Pierce never commanded top-tier volume, he flashed many desirable traits with the opportunities he received. At the very least, Pierce, with his footwork, density, and balance, is a solid runner. On top of that, he’s a great receiver and pass blocker.
Pierce is the kind of player that will have fans in pro football. He may not go early in the 2022 NFL Draft, but with his universal utility, he’s sure to have a role in the NFL. From there, he could eventually carve out a productive career.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Dameon Pierce
Positives: Nice-sized running back who displayed consistent progress in his game. Patiently waits for blocks to develop, possesses outstanding vision, and will pick and choose his way on the inside. Runs hard, rarely tackled by the first defender, and picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact.
Waits for blocks to develop, squeezes through the small openings of the offensive line, and consistently runs north/south. Solid pass catcher out of the backfield who adjusts to errant throws and extends his hands to make receptions away from his frame.
Negatives: Was never the feature back at Florida. Lacks the speed and quickness necessary to turn the corner. Plays to one speed and cannot beat defenders into the open field.
Analysis: Though speed-deficient, Pierce possesses solid size and a well-rounded game. He has enough ability to make a roster as a fourth running back.
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