Ravens draft Temple running back Bernard Pierce in third round

NFL Draft Ravens draft Temple running back Bernard Pierce in third round

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Maneuvering upward in the third round through a trade with the
Atlanta Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens drafted bruising Temple junior running
back Bernard Pierce.

By sending their third-round draft pick, 91st overall, and a
fifth-round pick, 164th overall, the Ravens went up seven spots to obtain their
likely primary backup to Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice.

Although Pierce will have to compete with Anthony Allen and Damien
Berry, the ultra-productive 6-foot, 218-pounder immediately becomes the
frontrunner to win the job and provide a physical presence behind the Ravens’
franchise player.

Pierce rushed for 3,570 career yards and 53 touchdowns, gaining
1,481 yards and scoring 21 touchdowns last season.

"He is a one-cut runner with some size," general manager
Ozzie Newsome said. "He runs very well behind his pads, and that’s the
style of running game that we’re using right now."

Pierce met with team officials at the Ravens’ training complex
during the final week of official visits for draft prospects.

Pierce had a hunch that the Ravens might draft him, exchanging
texts with coach John Harbaugh throughout the draft.

"He told me he was trying to get me," Pierce said.
"So, I just trusted him and I waited and I got the phone call. He’s a real
good guy. He’s cool, down to earth. He’s a real guy. I think we clicked
immediately as soon as I walked into the meeting room with him."

Pierce has run the 40-yard dash in the mid 4.4 range to 4.50
seconds, but it was his tackle-breaking and downhill style that drew the
Ravens’ interest.

He could provide a short-yardage presence bereft from the Ravens’
backfield since Ricky Williams’ abrupt retirement after last season.

“If you want me to get those short yards, those fourth-and-1s,
third-and-shorts, I can definitely adapt to a game plan any way you want me
to,” Pierce said. “I’m a big back, and I’m not going to go down easy. I’m going
to fight for every yard.”

And Pierce is looking forward to learning from Rice.

"He’s an amazing player," Pierce said. "I’ve
watched a lot of film on him. He does his job and he does it well. I just want
to come on the team and try to contribute any way I possibly can."

Because Rice isn’t attending offseason activities while contract
discussions continue, Pierce could find himself lining up with the first-team
offense during his absence.

"I’m definitely ready," Pierce said. "It’s going to
be different, but I’m going to adapt and I’m going to try to mold myself as
fast as possible to this offense and definitely try to get on the field as soon
as possible."

Newsome said that Rice’s unresolved contract status as an unsigned
franchise player didn’t factor into drafting Pierce.

"Ricky Williams retiring probably had more to do with
that," Newsome said.

And the Ravens could use a strong runner with a nose for the end

"The tape is very consistent," Ravens director of player
personnel Eric DeCosta said. "What I like about him is he’s really good
down in the red zone and also on the goal line. He’s a real physical guy. He
can lower his pads and does a really nice job down there."

Pierce isn’t known as a home-run threat, but ran the 100 meters in
10.6 seconds in high school for the fastest time in Pennsylvania during his
senior year.

"Deceptive," DeCosta said of Pierce’s speed. "He’s
a bigger back. What we like about him is his burst. There’s a chance of speed
when he gets to the hole and he’s able to clear the defender. We see change of
speed, which is what most big-time backs have."

Pierce caught only 19 passes for 179 yards, but wasn’t used much
in that capacity.

"He doesn’t get a lot of balls thrown to him," Ravens
director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said. "They use him as a bell cow
and then turn around and hand the ball off to him a lot. He can work the ball
in and around his frame. He made some nice catches on the sideline. He’s
definitely capable as a receiver."

Pierce said he declared early for the draft because he felt he had
accomplished so much for the Owls.

Plus, he’s about to become a father.

"I feel as though I did a lot of Temple," Pierce said.
"I put my heart, body and soul all on the line for the team. I love my
teammates, but I have a child on the way and it’s time for me to grow up. So, I
needed to make sure that I was able to step up and provide for my family."

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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