Baltimore Ravens: Defensive Player Spotlight – Michael Pierce
The Baltimore Ravens defensive player spotlight is 2nd-year player Michael Pierce, the former undrafted defensive tackle out of Samford. As an impact run defender his rookie year, Pierce had 35 combined tackles and 2 sacks for a nose tackle.
The NFL did not invite Michael Pierce to the NFL Combine. He had to do all his work for the draft at his pro day. That he did. During his workout, he ran a 10-meter split time faster than any DL that ran at the draft. This speed, along with his size and strength is what increased his draft stock. However, he would go undrafted.
According to Pro Football Focus (https://twitter.com/PFF/status/875159941014794240), Michael Pierce was one for the best rookie interior defenders and had the second best run stop percentages in 2016. With Pierce and Brandon Williams, the Ravens run defense was one of the best in the NFL.
He also did this while only starting one game in 2016.
Pierce should get the first chance to compete to start full time next to Williams. The players he will be competing against for the starting DT/DE position includes 2nd-year players Willie Henry and Bronson Kaufusi, veteran Brent Urban, and rookie Chris Wormley.
Pierce is traditionally a nose tackle but he can play defensive tackle and some end as a run stopper. Because Kaufusi and Henry did not play in 2016 and Pierce did and performed well, he has the edge to start. I envision the Raven using Pierce mostly on first and second down as a run stopper or on run plays in general.
The Baltimore Ravens are going to need a solid defensive performance in 2017. They are already starting behind the eight ball with an injury to Joe Flacco. Michael Pierce can help that strong defensive start along. Especially if he is able to pick up from where he left off in 2016.