The Indianapolis Colts drafted Alec Pierce with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and the rookie has impressed early in the season.
The Indianapolis Colts needed to expand their receiving core this offseason and made a move toward that by drafting Alec Pierce with their first pick in the draft, 53rd overall in the second round. The 2022 draft class was deep at wide receiver with Pierce being the 12th of his position taken in the first and second rounds. In total, there were 28 receivers drafted in 2022.
Being drafted that early carries a big weight but so does being one of 13 receivers taken in the first two rounds. That is a lot of competition to try to separate from, in addition to the receivers that are already on the team that drafted you. Pierce has stepped up to the plate and is the WR2 of this Colts’ team. But where does he stack up against other rookie receivers a few weeks into the season?
A recent article from Bleacher Report ranked Pierce highly amongst his rookie competitors. This list featured the top eight rookie wide receivers prior to Week 5 of the regular season. He ranked ahead of Treylon Burks (8th) on their AFC South rival Tennessee Titans and George Pickens (7th) of the Pittsburgh Steelers who were both drafted ahead of him. In Pickens’ case, 52nd overall pick, literally right before Pierce.
Romeo Doubs of the Green Bay Packers ranked 6th. He fell to the fourth round and was the 19th wide receiver taken, 79 picks after Pierce. Yet he finds himself right behind Pierce in the rankings trying to build a connection with Aaron Rodgers. Yes, that means that Alec Pierce ranked 5th amongst rookie wide receivers prior to Week 5 according to Bleacher Report.
Alec Pierce ranked the fifth-best rookie receiver
The argument is there. After not having a catch in Week 1 and missing Week 2 with a concussion, Pierce was almost set up for failure. Couple that with the poor offensive play we have seen from Indianapolis, and Pierce’s rookie season could have easily been a bust. Instead, he turned things around in Weeks 3 and 4 connecting on seven of his 11 targets for 141 yards. During this time, he played less than 50% of the team’s offensive snaps.
If the Colts need a big play they have looked for Pierce. He has made do on 50/50 balls, winning the battle with the defense. He has found his rhythm not only in the league but with his quarterback Matt Ryan. As the weeks progress, Ryan seems to look for Pierce more. His targets have increased each game along with his receptions and yards. Although this list didn’t consider Week 5, Pierce caught eight of his nine targets for 81 yards, all season highs for the rookie wideout.
The Colts need him to step up and play well to take pressure off their only other threat at wide receiver, Michael Pittman Jr. He has assumed the WR1 role in Indianapolis and has made do with it. However, Pierce playing well will force teams to focus on both and not just one, generating potential one-on-one matchups with either receiver. With their great size and ability, very rarely will they lose this matchup. Here is a look at some advanced stats between these two Indy receivers.
Ironically enough, the rookie wide receiver listed ahead of Pierce in fourth was Jahan Dotson of the Washington Commanders. The Commanders traded for former Colts’ quarterback Carson Wentz. Dotson has seen success with Wentz through four weeks. Heading into Week 5 he led all NFL receivers in touchdowns. However, he was drafted in the first round, 37 picks ahead of Pierce.
The top three were comprised of three early first-round selections. Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets was third, finding early success with the veteran intern quarterback Joe Flacco. Fellow Ohio State Buckeye Chris Olave with the New Orleans Saints was second despite being drafted a pick behind Wilson. In the premiere spot was the first receiver taken off the board in 2022 and the number one receiving option on the Atlanta Falcons, Drake London.
The future is bright in Indianapolis with Pierce and he is starting to show what he can be in this league. As he comes into his own, Pittman and the other Colts’ receivers should benefit from this as well. If the offense can get on track and Ryan can find his way in a new offense, they could have several weapons in the receiving core. As long as they continue to feed him the ball, Pierce will continue to rise up the rankings.