It was a strong personal workout that sold the Indianapolis Colts on wide receiver Alec Pierce, but perhaps it was a premonition from the University of Cincinnati standout's barber that really sealed the deal.
On Friday morning, to start the second day of the 2022 NFL Draft, Pierce received a text from his barber, which indicated that as much as he wanted him to possibly stay in Cincinnati as a member of the hometown Bengals, some sort of divine intervention was, in his mind, pushing Pierce to be selected that night by the Colts.
And, accordingly, with Colts' first pick of the draft — in the second round, 53rd overall — they would go ahead and make that hunch a reality, selecting Pierce and adding an athletic, tough pass catcher to new quarterback Matt Ryan's arsenal.
"It's a great team to join," Pierce said Friday night in his first media session with Indy-area reporters. "They've got all the pieces to be a great team, a team to win championships. … It's a place I really wanted to go, so it's great."
Pierce in 2021 was the top receiver on a talented Cincinnati team, as he climbed up draft boards both with his skills as a deep threat and as a go-up-and-get-it receiver. Last season, he set career highs in receiving yards (867) and receiving touchdowns (eight), while his 17.44 yards-per-catch average was the fourth-highest mark in school history.
And while the stats are enticing, the Colts really became sold on Pierce after a strong performance during a personal workout in recent weeks — a workout so good that Pierce received a follow-up call of praise from Colts general manager Chris Ballard.
"It was a really good day," Pierce said.
At 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, Pierce brings the Colts a similar build as their top receiver, Michael Pittman Jr., who is coming off a career second year, hauling in 88 receptions for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns.
Like Pittman Jr., Pierce is likely going to line up primarily on the outside in Indy. He had 751 career college snaps lined up outside to the left and 721 snaps lined up to the right, compared to 196 snaps lined up in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.
In Pierce's NFL.com Draft Profile, analyst Lance Zierlein sees the Glen Ellyn, Ill., native as a "possession receiver with the ability to create some downfield trouble as a pro."
"He plays a physical brand of ball and has combat-catch toughness, which is important because he's not an elusive route runner," Zierlein writes. "He can work underneath or challenge a bigger, slower cornerback deep, but the route tree is going to be limited. Some players have traits that don't show up on the field, but Pierce utilizes both his physical and athletic gifts."
Pierce, himself, admitted on Friday that his technique at the wide receiver position is his top priority when he arrives in Indy. But he won't have to go far to get schooled by one of the better technical wide receivers in NFL history — Reggie Wayne, the all-time-great Colts pass catcher who is in his first season as Indy's wide receivers coach in 2022.
Then there's Ryan, the Colts' new quarterback who has almost 60,000 career passing yards and nearly 370 career passing touchdowns to his credit. Pierce was just 8 years old when Ryan began his career in 2008 with the Atlanta Falcons, and now, 14 years later, he hopes to try to emulate another one of his top targets in Indianapolis.
"I loved watching Julio Jones as a kid, so I was always watching Matt Ryan," Pierce said. "So hopefully I can be Julio for him."