Tag:Bernard Pierce
Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:20 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 4:21 pm

Scouts identify 5 underrated Combine performers

Now that we've had a few days to fully digest the information overload that is the annual Scouting Combine, there are a few players who haven't received enough attention for strong efforts, according to my conversations with league personnel. 

Every Combine conversation I've had with scouts has started with the obvious workout warriors -- Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe, Georgia Tech wideout Stephen Hill, Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson and other, similarly well-publicized athletes. Considering their spectacular performances, it isn't surprising to see their stocks get a bump.

According to scouts. there are plenty of others flying under the national radar whose workouts helped solidify their grades. These are five who were mentioned multiple times. 

ILB Tank Carder, TCU: Much like Boston College's Luke Kuechly, Carder has been type-cast as an instinctive, high-motor defender throughout his career but the two-time defending Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year proved to be a much better all-around athlete at the Combine than anyone expected. The 6-2, 236 pound Carder clocked in a sub 4.70 time in the 40-yard dash (4.69 seconds officially) and demonstrated his agility in the three-cone (6.89) and short-shuttle drills (4.18) that some teams place a great deal of value in when scouting linebackers. 

QB Austin Davis, Southern Miss: With NFLDraftScout.com's top four-rated quarterbacks either unable to unwilling to throw passes at the Combine, I thought one of the more fascinating elements of this year's workout would be to see which of the so-called second or third-tier passers would be able to take advantage of the extra attention. Having been one of a limited number of media members allowed inside the Lucas Oil Stadium workout for the QB workouts this year, I saw Davis pass the ball well to all levels of the field, showing surprising zip on intermediate routes and as impressive accuracy on the deep ball (a knock on his game entering the Combine) as any passer on the field.

OLB Shea McClellin, Boise State: Generally speaking, I agree with how the NFL identifies players when assigning them positions at the Combine. Several so-called 'tweeners like McClellin were asked to work out as defensive linemen. After being stunned with McClellin's progress in playing linebacker at the Senior Bowl, I was disappointed he wasn't identified as such at the Combine. His workout certainly showed off the straight-line speed (4.63) and change-of-direction skills (7.07 seconds in the three-cone drills) to handle this conversion. McClellin's speed, in fact, would have ranked him fourth among the 29 linebackers tested at the Combine -- and this is after measuring in at 6-3, 260 pounds.

RB Bernard Pierce, Temple: Pierce is one of the more interesting backs in the 2012 draft class because he's more of a finesse, zone-read back than the power option that his 6-0, 220 pound frame and school record 53 rushing touchdowns would indicate. The junior helped prove his unique athleticism with an underrated all-around performance at the Combine in which he measured in faster (4.49), quicker (7.07 seconds in the three-cone) and more explosive (123" broad jump) than some of the more highly regarded backs of this class.

CB Trevin Wade, Arizona: While officially credited with just a 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash, Wade was surprisingly cited by several league sources as having a strong Combine workout. Scouts mentioned Wade's fluidity in timed drills (4.0 seconds in the short shuttle) and position drills as more important indicators of his underrated cover-corner skills than his time in 40-yard dash. Wade was inconsistent at Arizona but finished his career on a high note with a strong senior campaign and is rated by some scouts among the top 100 prospects in the draft. 

Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:34 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:32 pm

Temple's Pierce joins crowded 2012 RB class

Temple's Bernard Pierce joined a lengthy list of junior running backs making the jump to the 2012 NFL Draft.

A three-time First-Team All-MAC selection, Pierce rushed for 1,481 yards and a school-record 27 touchdowns in 2011. He is the No. 7 running back and No. 90 prospect overall, according to ratings by NFLDraftScout.com.

He joins Miami's Lamar Miller, Washington's Chris Polk and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman in announcing they will forgo their remaining eligibility - Miller and Hillman are redshirt sophomore. Still yet to make their announcements are Alabama's Trent Richardson, Virginia Tech's David Wilson and Oregon's LaMichael James.

Pierce closed out his career with 157 yards and three touchdowns against Army in the New Mexico Bwol, showing what he can do when healthy. But Pierce has been slowed by injuries in all three of his seasons, including hamstring tightness and a concussion in 2011.

Pierce was "Bernie" in the backfield dubbed the "Bernie and the Bug" show along with 170-pound junior Matt Brown.

"It has been a hard decision to make, and took a lot of soul-searching, but I believe that it is the right decision for me and my career," Pierce said in a statement. "I would like to take this time to thank Coach Steve Addazio, Coach Tyree Foreman, and all the staff here at Temple, for helping to shape and mold my football talent. I would like to thank Temple University for all the educational and athletic opportunities it has provided me."

Pierce leaves as the school's career leader with 53 rushing touchdowns and 54 overall.

"We want to thank Bernard for all that he has given to Temple football during his tenure," Owls coach Steve Addazio said. "We wish him great success at the next level, and we appreciate all that he has contributed to Temple University and the football program."


Posted on: November 3, 2011 8:35 am

Despite average stats Temple RB Pierce stands out

Temple lost a key game in the race for the MAC East crown Wednesday night to the Ohio, but even in the defeat the nationally televised contest gave fans (and scouts) a rare opportunity to see Owls' junior running back Bernard Pierce.

Pierce, listed at 6-1, 218 pounds, entered the contest ranked 11th in the country in rushing yards per game (118.8) and tied for first with 18 rushing touchdowns (with Wisconsin's Montee Ball).

Slowing Pierce was clearly the focus of the Ohio Bobcats' game plan Wednesday night and they were largely successful, limiting Pierce to "just" 84 yards on 22 carries. Pierce did breakaway for a 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter that tied the game at 21-21, but the Bobcats eventually pulled away, taking the lead for good with 1:41 remaining in the game on a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Tettleton to Donte Foster.

Pierce was actually overshadowed for much of the contest by a strong performance from Ohio's running back, senior Donte Harden, who rushed for 184 yards and caught two passes for another 75 yards in the game.

Harden, a senior, entered the game with only two touchdowns on the season and barely a blip on scouts' radar,  but showed burst through the hole and enough speed to break away from the Temple defense. He broke free on a 33-yard run on Ohio's first drive and followed that up with a 25 yard touchdown reception down the left sideline on a perfectly executed wheel-route after play-action. His most impressive play came in the third quarter when he raced up the middle, deftly slipping past defenders and pulled away for an 81-yard touchdown that gave Ohio a 21-14 lead.

Scouts on hand and watching the telecast, however, had mostly tuned in to see Pierce. Despite likely being limited with a hamstring injury that has nagged him this season (and unfortunately, the past, as well), Pierce demonstrated the combination of power, elusiveness and speed to warrant all of the attention. 

A standout since first stepping foot onto the field for the Owls, Pierce broke several freshman records in 2009 rushing for 1,361 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns. He rushed for over 100 yards six times. Hamstring and ankle injuries limited Pierce's 2010 season to just five starts (in ten games) but he still finished with 728 yards and led the team with 11 touchdowns (10 rushing, one receiving).

Against an Ohio defense that hasn't allowed a rusher to eclipse the century mark all season, Pierce showed good quickness to the hole and nice lateral agility to elude in tight quarters for a big back. Pierce runs a bit high, but keeps his legs churning on contact to break free from arm tackles. Perhaps his greatest assets appeared to be his vision and burst. Pierce had to work for his yards Wednesday night as Ohio defenders consistently met him at the point of attack, but the junior back showed the ability to bounce plays outside and beat the defense to the edge. Pierce has not been a featured target in Temple's limited passing game, so there are questions about his ability as a receiver out of the backfield. He did step up in pass protection, however, showing the willingness and form to take on blitzing linebackers.

I'd personally rank Alabama's Trent Richardson, Washington's Chris Polk and Virginia Tech's David Wilson ahead of him as potential 2012 running back prospects. Miami redshirt sophomore Lamar Miller, should he elect to leave with two seasons of eligibility remaining, would also rank ahead of Pierce on my board. Pierce, however, due to his blend of size, speed and production throughout his career, would certainly compete with any other back in the country (including all of the seniors) as a potential second round pick.

Pierce is currently ranked by NFLDraftScout.com as the 10th best running back potentially available for the 2012 draft.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com