Monday, August 8, 2022

NFL analyst predicts Colts player will ‘shock everyone’ next season

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Twitter discussions are usually left to fans to discuss popular NFL topics. But NFL players and analysts sometimes join the discussion, too.

On July 22, ESPN’s NFL-TV analyst Louis Riddick answered to a tweet by FanDuel that was meant to spark NFL conversation. The tweet urged fans to pick an “NFL player who will shock everyone next season.”

Riddick predicted it would be Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce.

At the end of Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft, Riddick mentioned the Colts as a team that did well in the second and third rounds. Apparently his opinion hasn’t changed on Pierce, who is quietly emerging as a top pick among NFL rookies to shine in 2022.

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Michael Pittman Jr. is starting as Indianapolis’ top outsider this season, but the Colts are trying to pair him with one of the other young wideouts on the roster. Pierce and Parris Campbell are the most likely candidates.

Campbell has three years of experience with Pierce, but Campbell has only appeared in 15 NFL games over three seasons due to numerous injuries. He had 10 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown in 6 games last year.

Colts head coach Frank Reich was complimenting all of the team’s wide receivers during the OTAs and training camp and gave no real indication of who might start against Pittman. But despite his lack of experience, Pierce’s intelligence and Indianapolis’ tenacity to push the freshman forward bring him into play.

“He’s a very smart guy,” Reich told reporters on June 1. “He learned the offense really quickly. He did a good job.

“He will have to fight for every snap. It’s a very competitive group. But we’re definitely pushing it.”

Though 11 wide receivers are ahead of Pierce in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Colts’ rookie wideout this fall has become a popular choice to stand out among freshmen in the NFL.

On July 13, Bleacher Report NFL writer Maurice Moton boldly predicted that Pierce would win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

“Although the Colts have launched a run-heavy offense with running back Jonathan Taylor the past two seasons, Pierce should see plenty of targets in an airstrike that features only one reliable pass catcher in Michael Pittman Jr.,” Moton wrote.

Pierce stood at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, Moton was also complementary to his physical attributes.

ESPN’s NFL writer Mike Clay was also high on Pierce when he predicted the rookie stats leaders for the upcoming season. Clay predicted Pierce would finish fifth if he received yards among the rookies with 746 yards.

Clay wrote that the only first-year wideouts who will have more yards than Pierce will be Drake London, Treylon Burks, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

“Runner-up Pierce comes as a bit of a surprise on this list, but even in a run-heavy offense he has a clear road to a big workload on Michael Pittman Jr.,” Clay wrote.

The Colts do not own a wide receiver older than 25, and Pittman is the team’s only wideout with more than 400 receiving yards in a single season. The opportunity for Pierce to play big early in the season seems to be there.

But as Reich said, the rookie will have to earn his playing time. Of course, it’s also Pierce’s talent that gives NFL analysts like Riddick confidence he’ll play well in 2022.

ESPN’s NFL writer Mike Clay was also high on Pierce when he predicted the rookie stats leaders for the upcoming season. Clay predicted Pierce would finish fifth if he received yards among the rookies with 746 yards.



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