Everyone knows about Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Vonta Leach and Jacoby Jones but few teams are game-planning for Bernard Pierce.
When the Baltimore Ravens traded up in the third round of the 2012 draft to grab Temple running back Bernard Pierce many fans where befuddled. Not only was running back not an immediate position of need for the team but they already have all world running back Ray Rice garnering the lions share of the carries. Over the past few season the Ravens have been content with having an aging veteran running back with some gas left in the tank take the ball when Rice needed a breather so why use two draft picks to get another back?
Some though it meant that the Ravens were not willing to commit to a long term deal with Rice and needed a new premier back. Other scoffed at the moved and considered it a waste of two early to mid round draft picks. Sure Pierce was a great running back in college but that was at Temple, where they weren't always facing top notch competition, like Maryland for instance. Pierce set a school record when he ran for five touchdowns against the Terps. Heck, that was the only reason I even knew who he was at the time.
Head coach John Harbaugh summed it up pretty clearly when asked about the move up in the draft to acquire Pierce. "We got, what we consider, a first round talent in the third round" scoffed Harbaugh. Now, here we are about to play our first playoff game and it looks as if the Ravens were right again. Pierce could easily be a starter on any NFL team. He has patience beyond his years in the backfield. He has a great burst when a hole is exposed and he is one of those players that is always falling forwards, you can't teach that. Now the Ravens have two potentially great running backs to turn to and if Ray Rice ever does go down they won't have to rely on a veteran who may or may not have enough left in the tank to carry the running game for a full 60 minutes.
Pierce has not only shown that he is capable of playing in the NFL. He has shown that he is capable of being an explosive player at this level as he has had a fair amount of good, long runs in the little time he has had to carry the ball. That run in the Giants game was no fluke, Bernard Pierce is that type of player and the more carries he gets the better he is going to be. He has a different running style than Rice. He is more of an upright runner but he has the moves to make any defender miss him in the open field just like Ray Rice does.
He reminds me of a somewhat smaller version of Arian Foster in Houston when he runs and he is, what they call, sneaky fast. He may not look all that fast on every play but, bang! Before you know it he's blown past you for a long gain. For now he is the Ravens secret weapon but I don't think it will stay that way for long. Not if he keeps getting his carries. The more he touches the ball the worse off it is for the competition.