Updated: Aug 20, 2022
Is Dameon Pierce being overlooked? The stats definitely won't pop out to most with only 2228 total yards from scrimmage in four years at Florida. But then you look at his 2021 season and look at the scoring efficiency. 16 touchdowns on 119 touches should get our attention. Could he be a "diamond in the rough" plagued by an intentional rotation in Florida? At 5'10", 215 pounds, we may have the "perfect storm" of circumstances that create a steal in the 2022 draft. A productive runner with very little wear and tear due to low total touches should make scouts think twice. The low career production will surely impact his draft stock, and a savvy franchise could scoop him up late to the surprise of many.
RBV screams at us to look closer at Dameon Pierce. This level of performance in Outside Zone and Power is a nice combination to have, not to mention a solid performance for Inside Zone. The singular attempts in Gap and Counter schemes speak more to Florida's run offense than it does to Pierce's ability. These numbers indicate either excellent vision on the edges and in space or excellent burst to the edge. If we are lucky, it will be both. The difference between the Inside Zone and Power numbers is intriguing because both schemes require a bit of a higher reaction speed.
Vision and Burst
Dameon Pierce's vision is very good on the edges. He consistently reads developing blocks well and we are able to see good change of direction as blocking dynamics shift during the play. Pierce's patience is excellent when pressing the point of attack. As he attacks the C gaps in Outside Zone, it is a common occurrence that good linebackers get sucked into the trenches. Right when they think they have him, that burst to the edge helps him win.
He can do the opposite with his pad level as well, manipulating linebackers to widen their angles so he can cut up inside. A good sense of spatial awareness is present as he maximizes space in the gaps. Even in Power concepts, we see his willingness to trust the play design until the point of attack is truly closed.
Pierce has plenty of juice to burst to the edge. This is consistent, even on the boundary side of the play where the grass is limited. He does have the footwork to navigate the trenches when needed, but it does seem that he benefits greatly from a lead blocker. Nonetheless, Pierce can accelerate to the next gear very quickly. This is a testament to his high-end play speed, demonstrating a high-speed vision-decision-action cycle.
There should be no concerns about his finishing ability. His speed translates to good homerun speed in the open field. Pierce is unafraid to test good play strength in 1-on-1 engagements but knows when it is advantageous to be elusive. With that said, he is not pushing any piles or dragging multiple defenders for more yards routinely. He can make defenders miss in the open field primarily because his feet are always under his pads. This allows him to stay sudden and explosive. Good contact balance will also help him extend plays.
This is an area that is challenging to judge due to the low amount of opportunities. The rotational nature of running back deployment in Florida is a likely contributing factor. Even still, Pierce showed he could be reliable as a receiver. It's unfortunate that Florida didn't try to maximize his speed on wheel routes. Despite the lack of use in the downfield passing game, Pierce transitions quickly from receiver to runner where he can tap into his speed and elusiveness.
This is how he will get on the field early. Many have mentioned how Kyren Williams is one of the better pass protectors in this class. I wonder if they have watched Dameon Pierce's blocking tape. Not only does he consistently locate his assignment, get in position, and engage, he also engages with very good technique. It is a regular occurrence that he stones blitzing linebackers or safeties with a good anchor and is often ready for additional engagements. It is rare that he gets beat in pass protection.
There is not a whole lot to be concerned about. Maybe he's just shy of the prototypical size. Perhaps he lacks experience as a split-out receiver in the passing game. Unfortunately for him, his production profile is underwhelming at first glance, and it's possible the "right" team could overlook him.
Dameon Pierce is a very good runner for any NFL offense that features Outside Zone with Power as a wrinkle. His vision, balance, play speed, and change of direction will play well with his patience and pad-level discipline as he manipulates second-level defenders. Very good burst will allow the offense to exploit defenses with poor edge discipline and consistently afford positive yards, even in blown block situations. At the second level, we can expect good elusiveness and good play strength in 1-on-1 engagements. Solid contact balance will afford the offense additional production down-in and down-out. Offenses will benefit from good homerun speed that demands good pursuit angles from defenses. With reliable hands, good YAC ability, and excellent pass protection, he could be a very good 3-down back. Lack of college production may be seen as a negative for his overall profile, but it's really a benefit of minimal wear-and-tear on the most productive RB in Florida's backfield over the last few years.