The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL draft.
From 2006 to 2014, the Green Bay Packers had great success drafting wide receivers in the second round. It was the organization’s bread and butter. Greg Jennings (2006), Jordy Nelson (2008), Randall Cobb (2011) and Davante Adams (2014) were all selected in the second round.
Since selecting Adams with the 53rd overall pick, the Packers haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the second round and the talent at the wide receiver pool at 1265 Lombardi Avenue has dried up.
With a need at wide receiver, that drought should come to an end in the 2022 NFL draft.
A player that the Packers could target with the 53rd overall pick is Alec Pierce. The Cincinnati wide receiver checks in at No. 3 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.
As a sophomore in 2019, Pierce hauled in 37 receptions for 652 yards and two touchdowns. In six games in 2020, Pierce hauled in three touchdowns.
This past season Pierce hauled in 52 receptions for 884 yards and eight touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Pierce had 13 deep receptions this past season.
Pierce is going to make a living as a vertical threat. He’s got great size (6’3”) and speed (4.41). He accelerates smoothly off the line of scrimmage and challenges cornerbacks vertically. Pierce climbs the ladder to attack the pigskin at the highest point. He has springs in his shoes and is able to leap out of the stadium. He tracks the ball well and has strong hands.
“He’s 6’3″ and has 4.3 speed,” Zack Patraw, the President of NFL Draft Bible said. “He’s always a threat to beat you vertically. He’s always a threat to beat you vertically and take the top off of the defense. He’ll win at the catch point. He has great balance to go up and get the ball, remain on his feet despite contact, and break a big play.”
Pierce is a fluid athlete and is sudden off the line of scrimmage. As a route runner, Pierce has good hip sink for a man of his stature. He explodes in and out of his breaks to create separation at the top of the route. He has quick, efficient feet. The former three-star recruit does a good job of selling double moves, using subtle head bogs.
“He’s a big receiver that is explosive with lateral burst who can beat you in a straight line with his speed,” Patraw said. “He’s still a bit underdeveloped as a route runner and doesn’t play to his size. He’s slow to decelerate on curl routes and needs to be quicker at showing his hands. He’s still raw with plenty to develop.”
In terms of after-the-catch ability, Pierce is not going to wow anybody. It’s not something he’s been put in a position to showcase during his time at Cincinnati. He has ideal quickness and toughness and it’s part of his game that could boom when he turns pro if he’s in the right system.
Pierce is a bit like former Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson. He’s not going to beat you with his YAC ability. He’s going to move the chains with back-shoulder throws. He’s going to outmuscle his defender at the catch point and beat you vertically.
“He’s pretty dangerous,” Patraw said. “His size and speed make it hard to catch him, and when you do catch him, he’s not the easiest to bring down. He’ll break tackles and fight for extra yards.”
Pierce has strong, reliable hands. He’s able to spear throws away from his frame. He showcases good ball-tracking skills on vertical routes. According to PFF, Pierce only had four drops on 82 targets this past season.
Pierce has impressive ball skills and just four drops over the last two years. His average depth of target for his career was almost 17 yards downfield, but he has the skills to work at all levels of the field.
Pierce brings it as a blocker. With his size and strength he can move defensive backs as a run blocker.
“He gives sufficient effort,” Patraw said. “I would have liked to see more from him as a blocker for a guy of his size. I’d like to see better play strength out of him and develop more of his technique.”
Pierce put on a show at the combine. He clocked a 40-time of 4.41. The former volleyball player jumped out of the building with a 40.5-inch vertical and had a broad jump of 10’9”. That performance came as no surprise, as he was No. 46 on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list.
On top of everything he brings as a wide receiver, Pierce could be an instant contributor on special teams as a gunner. A role that he played exclusively as a freshman for the Bearcats.
Packers film room: Why Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce is great fit in 2022 NFL draft
Fit with the Packers
Pierce has the athleticism, size, hands, and big-play ability that teams covet. That combination could make him the next wide receiver that the Packers select in the second round.
“To be my big, outside receivers that will allow me to stretch the field vertically,” Patraw said. “The threat of him going deep will start bringing safeties over the top of him and open up the field for the rest of my offense.”
It’s been eight years since the Packers selected a wide receiver in the second round. After trading Adams they need to start reloading at the wide receiver position. The Packers could use the pick they got as part of the Adams trade to select Pierce, a wide receiver that seems like a “Packer” guy.
After losing Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, the Packers are in the market for a new vertical threat. Pierce is going to make a living as a vertical threat. With his quickness (4.41), the Cincinnati wide receiver could be a dangerous weapon in Green Bay’s offense catching passes from Aaron Rodgers.
Complete list of Packers Wire’s ‘Unpacking Future Packers’ draft preview series
Ideal WR options for the Packers in each round of the 2022 NFL draft