According to general manager Chris Ballard recently on ‘The Rich Eisen Show’, he detailed Indianapolis Colts’ top rookie wideout Alec Pierce’s ‘unusual’ workout with his team ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft at the University of Cincinnati—just a two-hour drive on I-74E:
“We went out to the University of Cincinnati to work out Desmond Ridder, and Alec (Pierce) showed up and worked out, which is (unusual),” Ballard said. “Rich, let me just tell you this, that’s unusual today. You know fifteen years ago, we could get kids to run three forties. If we needed them to do something, they would do it. Nowadays, it’s just getting them to complete the process. It’s quite the fight. But Alec showed up, he worked out.”
“Reggie (Wayne) was with us. Reggie Wayne went down with us, and you could feel him (Pierce) when he worked out. Even though he’s 6’3”, 211 (pounds), he’s got a lot of power in his body, he’s fast, and he’s really athletic.”
“We think he adds a big play element at the receiver position that we needed to address.”
To me, Ballard’s comments are important for at least a few reasons:
1) Pierce is a bit of a ‘field rat’, who wasn’t afraid to test out and showcase his stuff to the Colts scouts on-hand—having no potential fear of diminishing his still fluid draft stock or risking injury. Much like Michael Pittman Jr., the Colts covet wideouts who aren’t afraid to mix it up and always play with some extra edge and intensity—with a high motor.
2) New Colts wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne was significantly involved in Pierce’s pre-draft evaluation process, and he played with some good to great wide receivers in his elite longtime 14-year career including Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton, Brandon Stokley, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie among others. Wayne isn’t just a beloved franchise figurehead looking to simply coach a few team practice drills and collect a weekly paycheck. He’s actively involved as a wide receivers coach. The fact that he traveled and worked out Pierce, and the Bearcats’ promising rookie ‘passed the test’ speaks volumes.
3) Ballard really thinks that Pierce can bring a dynamic, ‘big play’ element to the Colts passing game—featuring his unique combination of speed, power, and athleticism. Per Sharp Football Analysis, the Colts ranked 20th in average explosive pass rate during 2021, so this is definitely an area offensively that the team could significantly improve upon. Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan’s addition should only help with increased accuracy and yards after the catch opportunities, but so should Pierce—on the other side of Pittman Jr.