TE Casey Pierce (Kent State) - Undrafted free agent
Given all of their injury issues at tight end last year, the Detroit Lions found out how important it is to have extra depth at the position just in case. In 2014, that meant promoting Jordan Thompson from the practice squad and signing Kellen Davis. This year, perhaps Casey Pierce will emerge as their backup plan after being signed as an undrafted free agent.
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 244 pounds
2011: 3 catches, 25 yards
2012: 1 catch, 10 yards
2013: 33 catches, 364 yards, 5 TD
2014: 60 catches, 641 yards, 6 TD
Pierce played in the 2015 Senior Bowl and was teammates with Laken Tomlinson, Ameer Abdullah and Quandre Diggs, who were all selected by the Lions during the draft. Pierce caught two passes for 36 yards during the game.
What the experts are saying
As a fifth-year senior, Pierce led the team in receptions (60), receiving yards (641) and touchdown catches (6). When a tight end is leading a team in all of those categories, it's almost always either because it's still the 1930s or the rest of the offense is just that bad. While a lot of other players may have struggled to put Pierce in a better position to perhaps have better numbers, they were still good enough for him to earn Second Team All-MAC honors after this past season.
Can line up in a variety of spots. Offers formation versatility and a willingness to do the dirty work as a blocker. He won't do much on the ground after the catch, but he has reliable hands and the competitive temperament to give himself a legitimate shot of making a roster, likely for a West Coast offense.
Antonio Gates is the best tight end Kent State has produced, but since he played basketball in college, Pierce is the most productive tight end prospect in Golden Flashes history.
He led the team as a senior in receiving with 60 catches for 641 yards and six touchdowns, breaking the previous school record for receptions by a tight end (47). Pierce earned an invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl and didn't waste the time of the NFL representatives in attendance, showing off his well-rounded skill-set as both a receiver and blocker.
Was the lone Kent State player with a positive receiving grade. Lined up in the slot or out wide on 26% of his snaps.
(via Draft Breakdown)
Outlook for 2015
Unless Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron or Joseph Fauria suffers an injury, it's tough to imagine Pierce having a shot at a spot on the 53-man roster this year. Even so, he should be in the mix for the practice squad, although he will likely have to beat out Thompson to stick around.
Previous scouting reports
Draft picks: OG Laken Tomlinson, RB Ameer Abdullah, CB Alex Carter, DT Gabe Wright, FB Michael Burton, CB Quandre Diggs, OT Corey Robinson
UDFAs: QB Anthony Boone, RB Zach Zenner, RB Desmond Martin, RB Rasheed Williams, WR Vernon Johnson, WR Jared Haggins