INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are addressing the offense so far in this year's NFL draft.
The Colts selected University of Cincinnati wide receiver Alec Pierce in the second round of the draft Friday night. With their next pick, they chose Jelani Woods, a tight end from the University of Virginia, in the third round.
Their night appeared to be over when the Colts traded a fifth-round pick on Saturday (the 179th overall in the draft) and a third-round pick in next year's draft to the Denver Broncos to select Maryland safety Nick Cross with the 96th pick of the draft.
Pierce was the Bearcats top receiver last year en route to the CFP semifinal. The 6-foot, 3-inch, 211-pound receiver caught 52 passes for 884 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games for Cincinnati last season.
“I had a gut-feeling with the Colts and then I had someone predict I was going to the Colts. It's a place I really wanted to go," Pierce said before divulging his source. “My barber said he really wanted me to stay in Cincinnati so he could keep cutting my hair but that God told him I was going to the Colts.”
He was named first-team Academic All-American in 2021, as well. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Pierce provides a complementary presence to Michael Pittman Jr., who had his first 1,000-yard season last year. They'll be lining up with NFL rushing champ Jonathan Taylor and all three will be catching passes from Matt Ryan, the league's 2016 MVP and Indy's sixth opening-day starter in six years.
“I’m a guy you can put on the boundary who can beat one-on-one coverage with speed and size vertically,” Pierce said. “I can make them put a safety over the top and help open up the running game, too.”
He'll be working with new receivers coach Reggie Wayne, one of the greatest pass-catchers in team history.
“He (Ryan) is a guy I grew up watching a lot because I loved watching Julio Jones," Pierce said. “So I'm really happy to get a chance to work with him.”
Wayne welcomed Pierce to Indy with a phone call Friday night.
Pierce was also welcomed to Indy in a video tweeted by new Colts quarterback Matt Ryan, with some help from his sons.
“You look at them last year and they we're really a really good team that fell just short of the playoffs," Pierce said. “But they've got all the pieces to win a championship.”
Woods led ACC tight ends with 598 yards receiving and eight touchdowns last season.
He fills a need for the Colts following the retirement of Jack Doyle.
With the 77th pick overall, Indianapolis picked Bernhard Raimann, a tackle from Central Michigan. A native of Austria, Raimann served in the Austrian military before college.
Cross made 66 tackles, including 3 1/2 for a loss, last season for the Terrapins. He intercepted three passes in 2021, bringing his career total to six.
He also posted the best 40-yard dash time at this year's NFL scouting combine.
The Colts second pick of the third round was acquired in a draft-day deal with the Minnesota Vikings that sent Indy's original second-round pick to Minnesota, along with a fourth-round selection in exchange for three picks.
In addition to the second-round pick that was used on Pierce, Indianapolis received the Vikings' third-round (77th) and sixth-round picks (192nd).
The Colts entered the draft needing to add some more weapons on offense and though six wide receivers were taken in the first round, there is still plenty of talent left on the board at the position, as well as some tight ends.
That is indeed the route the Colts took in selecting Pierce, who grew up in the Chicago area, about three hours north of Indianapolis.
One of the wideouts expected to hear his name called on the draft's second night is Purdue star David Bell, a Warren Central graduate. Bell caught 232 passes for 2,946 yards and 21 touchdowns in his Purdue career.
He ended up being selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 99th pick overall.
Indianapolis now holds the the 16th pick in Round 5 (159 overall), the 13th and 38th picks in Round 6 (192 and 216) and the 18th pick in the seventh round (239). Those final four rounds will all be held Saturday in Las Vegas.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the fifth-round pick in this year's draft that was also included in the Colts' trade with Denver Friday night.)