It will be interesting to see just how early in the 2022 NFL Draft we see Florida Gators running back Dameon Pierce come off the board. He was seldom used in his four collegiate seasons but showed a high level of productivity through limited touches. Efficiency is the name of his well-rounded game.
A compact build with enough athleticism to make defenders miss in traffic and soft enough hands to threaten out of the backfield should endear Pierce to a team somewhere early on Day 3, but he has a chance to sneak into the late third round.
Height: 5-foot-9 5/8
Weight: 218 pounds
40 time: 4.59 seconds
Pierce was a decorated, four-year starter coming out of high school in Georgia prior to attending Florida. He was utilized in all 13 contests as a true freshman but failed to separate himself as a sophomore.
In 2020, Pierce’s utilization more than doubled. He wound up accounting for 16 total scores last season with the Gators. The scoring prowess alone will give him a legitimate chance at carving out a role in the NFL if he cannot win a starting gig down the line.
Table: Dameon Pierce NCAA stats (2018-21)
*includes postseason/bowl games
- Agility and vision in tight quarters make for a tough tackle
- Not afraid of lowering his should to initiate contact, and legs keep moving to the play’s end
- Barely utilized — low mileage could lengthen career
- Better receiver out of the backfield than the stats suggest, which includes an uptick in aerial production over the past two seasons
- Well-built physique with balance and adequate burst through arm tackles
- Developed into a touchdown machine as a senior — highly efficient overall on a per-touch basis in his career but especially so in 2021
- Plays with suddenness and unpredictability — jump-cuts, stop-and-go acceleration, and chaotic movements make him difficult to size up in the open field
- Read-and-react decision-making that cannot be taught
- Versatility in terms of system and scheme fits as well as roles — could be utilized in zone- or power-blocking, in a pro-style or spread system, and even on third downs
- Quality pass protector with good anchor and balance traits
- No fumbles in 2020 or ’21 as role increased (two fumbles prior)
- Team-first, positive attitude
Also see: 2022 NFL Draft Central
- Route tree was limited almost exclusively to the flats and seam routes
- Energetic rather than athletic — frenetic style is effort-based more so than being naturally a quick-twitch runner
- Lacks breakaway speed
- While not a true negative, it’s more of an unknown how he will hold up to a larger workload
- Despite above-average vision and agility, he doesn’t display a whole lot of creativity
Fantasy football outlook
The closest physical comparison using combine data from 1987 through 2022 was Frank Gore. Yet, they really couldn’t exhibit different styles as runners. Gore was more of a downfield slasher and wasn’t as erratic as Pierce. There’s a ton of video showing Gore breaking long runs, which just is not in Pierce’s game tape. Now, that’s not to say he cannot be productive in the pros, but he’s in no way going to be mistaken for a future Hall of Famer, like Gore proved to become.
The system won’t matter too much for Pierce’s outlook, but his landing spot is critical, particularly early in his career. The likely Year 1 role is that of a third-stringer or special teams player. If granted the opportunity to see meaningful touches, he should be worth a look in 2022 fantasy.
As for his long-range worth, there’s no reason to be excited for rostering him, but Pierce is poised to have a lengthy career as a backup journeyman with the occasional flash moment.