PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
The Ravens are working on a long-term deal with running back Ray Rice, but Friday night they made a move to provide reinforcement to the backfield.
Baltimore traded up in the third round to take Temple running back Bernard Pierce.
To get Pierce, the Ravens traded with the Atlanta Falcons to move up seven spots, swapping third-round picks and also giving up their fifth-round pick (No. 164).
“We started to look at the board and we started to see that a lot of the players that we really wanted were being picked,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. “We had the additional pick in the fifth round and we felt like the value of going up and getting Bernard was worth it.”
Pierce (6-foot-0, 215 pounds) comes to Baltimore after rushing for 1,481 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. During his three-year career at Temple, Pierce finished second in school history with 3,570 rushing yards.
“He is a one-cut runner with some size,” Newsome said. “He runs really well behind his pads. That’s the style of running game that we use.”
Pierce is a big-bodied running back that brings a contrasting style to Rice. He has decent speed – he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds – but is also big enough to replace running back Ricky Williams, who surprisingly retired at the start of the offseason, as the Ravens power rusher.
“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 on a conference call. “I’m a big back, and I’m not going to go down easy. I’m going to fight for every yard.”
The Ravens made the move to provide some additional depth in the backfield with Williams gone. Newsome said that Williams’ decision to retire factored into drafting Pierce, and that Rice’s ongoing contract negotiations were not part of the decision.
The Ravens like having a big running back to provide a different rushing style than Rice. With the bruising Williams as his backup last year, Rice had the best season of his career and routinely said that Williams was the “best thing that ever happened to me.”
Adding Pierce to the mix gives the Ravens another option to wear down defenses and keep Rice from getting overworked.
“He’s an amazing player,” Pierce said about Rice. “I’ve watched a lot of film on him. He does his job and his does it well. I just want to come on the team and try to contribute in any way I possibly can.”
Pierce could also be an option in the red zone and in short yardage situations.
“He’s really good down in the red zone, and also at the goal line,” Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta said. “He’s a real physical guy. He can lower his pads and do a really nice job down there.”
Pierce will compete with second-year running backs Anthony Allen and Damien Berry for the backup job. All three players also have the ability to play special teams, which appealed to the Ravens.
“The coaches welcomed me with open arms and they are great guys,” Pierce said. “I’m happy to be a Raven.”