Rookie Michael Pierce has been a phenomenal contributor. He may be the best UDFA the Raven’s have added since the signing of Justin Tucker in 2012. The big defensive tackle is batting down passes, collapsing pockets, and stuffing the run week after week. Pierce was recently ranked 9th in Pro Football Focus’s Top Ten Rookies with RB Ezekial Elliot, QB Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott rounding out the top three. This Samford star also made Mel Kiper Jr.’s midseason all-rookie team with the likes of first round picks Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner, which is no small feat for the 24 year old out of Samford.
Pierce, working the middle of the defensive line with Brandon Williams, has been a revelation to the Baltimore Ravens’ coaching staff. The two tackles make up two of the better run-stopping linemen in the league. The Ravens are currently number one in rushing defense with opposing running backs averaging only 3.3 yards per attempt and 71.3 yards per game. Furthermore, Pierce has helped hold teams to only four touchdowns on the ground thus far in 2016.
The Ravens are ranked fourth in pass defense, however they are ranked first in overall defense. This is a tremendous improvement over the 2015 Ravens. Although the season is not over, it is hard to over estimate the contribution to the interior that Micheal Pierce has made. With Brandon Williams likely in his last year because of salary cap restraints, it appears as though Ozzie has found his new nose tackle for 2017.