Ravens trade up in third round to draft Temple RB Bernard Pierce

April 27, 2012 | Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With uncertainty surrounding the status of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, the Ravens decided to address the issue by selecting talented Temple running back Bernard Pierce in the third round.

Trading their 91st and 164th selections to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for the 84th overall pick, Baltimore adds depth to the running back position with a talented runner who produced two 1,000-yard rushing campaigns in his collegiate career before electing to leave Temple after his junior season.

“He’s bigger [than Rice],” said general manager Ozzie Newsome, who denied Pierce’s selection being connected to Rice’s contract situation. “He’s bigger, but he is a runner that can run very well on the inside as well as on the outside.”

Pierce was especially potent in his final season with the Owls, rushing for 1,578 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Temple running back gained notoriety locally when he ran for 149 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-7 rout over Maryland last September.

With Rice remaining unsigned after receiving the franchise tag from the Ravens in early March, the Ravens were extremely thin at running back with only second-year options Anthony Allen and Damien Berry on the offseason roster. Pierce will presumably step into the role left behind by veteran Ricky Williams, who announced his retirement in February.

“What I like about him is he is really good down in the red zone,” director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said. “Also, on the goal line, he is a real physical guy. He can lower his pads and does a really nice job down there. Impressive.”

Listen to Pierce’s conference call with the Baltimore media here.

Check out Pierce’s Wikipedia profile here.