Welcome to the nest: RB Bernard Pierce

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What you need to know about him: Bernard Pierce, a 21-year-old native of Ardmore, Pa., is 6-feet and 218 pounds. He played at Temple, where he got better each season. He was great this season, when he seized the spotlight by rushing for 147 yards and five touchdowns on 32 carries in a blowout of Maryland. Pierce ended his senior season by leading the Owls to a 37-15 win over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl for the team’s first bowl win in 32 years. Pierce, who posted 1,481 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, finished with 3,570 career rushing yards, second-most in school history, and 53 touchdowns. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, which is good considering he weighs 218 pounds.

Significance of his selection in the third round, 84th overall: It showed the Ravens didn’t think very highly of the remaining centers because that’s a position that needs to be addressed with greater urgency than finding a replacement for Ricky Williams, who retired during the offseason. The Ravens signed center Matt Birk, 35, to a three-year-deal during the offseason. But Birk hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2007 and is in the twilight of a career that began with him snapping balls to Randall Cunningham in Minnesota when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

Cause for concern: He’s by no means a dominating running back and the Ravens already have one of the best rushers in the league in Ray Rice, who amassed more yards from scrimmage than any player in the league last year. The Ravens, however, see something in Pierce, but did the Ravens really need to spend a third-round pick on a running back when they have much more pressing needs, namely at center?

Crystal ball: He’s not the next Ray Rice, but he won’t be a bust, either. He’ll have an average career who will do the little things asked of him, like block and convert short-yardage situation. He’ll have the chance to learn from two Pro Bowlers – Rice and fullback Vontae Leach – so he’ll have every chance to succeed.

General manager Ozzie Newsome on trading up seven spots by giving their third-round and fifth-round picks to the Falcons to acquire Pierce: “We started to see a lot of out players we really wanted were being picked. We had the additional pick in the fifth round and felt the value of going up to get Bernard was worth it.”

Did you know? Pierce is the first Temple player drafted by the Ravens in franchise history. He’s also just the seventh Owl to be drafted by any team since 2003. The last time a Temple running back was drafted was in 1989, when the Chiefs took Todd McNair.

(Courtesy photo

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