2013 Baltimore Ravens Breakout Candidate: Bernard Pierce
I hate admitting when I’m wrong, but I definitely was about the Baltimore Ravens‘ third round pick from last year, Bernard Pierce. Not that I didn’t think Pierce would be a good player I just didn’t think it made sense to trade up in the third round of the draft to take a backup running back. I was wrong and have since proclaimed that I will never doubt the great Ozzie Newsome ever again.
Watching Pierce last year reminded me of another back that was once a Raven and that’s Willis McGahee. Pierce is a physical, one-cut type of running back, much like McGahee, and is a great complement to the smaller, shiftier Ray Rice, much like McGahee was.
In 2012 Pierce rushed for 532 yards on 108 carries. That’s right, around five yards per carry if your math skills are lacking. Pierce didn’t really take off until the second to last week of the season in a crushing division clinching win over the New York Giants. That was the moment when I was truly sold on what Pierce could do. In the playoffs one could even argue that Pierce was more effective then Rice.
2013 could be a breakout year for Pierce, as he should definitely get some more carries. Rice is still clearly the starter, but he’s a smaller guy and shouldn’t be getting 25 carries every single game. The Ravens need to get their money’s worth from the lucrative contract Rice signed just last offseason. Expect more carries for Pierce, a few less carries for Rice, and more Rice to be more involved in the passing game to help fill the void left by Anquan Boldin.
Could 2013 be the first time in franchise history that the Ravens have two backs rush for 1,000 yards in the same season? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.