NFL Draft Profile - Pierre Strong Jr - RB - South Dakota State

Updated: Jan 28

SDSU Running Back Looks to Make Impression at NFL Combine

Profile

Height - 5ft 11" Weight - 205lbs Class - Junior


High School


Pierre Strong was a fairly well-regarded prospect out of Mcclellan Magnet High School. In his final two years, he recorded 57 touchdowns and 4268 yards. A few schools showed interest including Arkansas, South Dakota State was the only school to make an official offer and Stong soon committed in January 2017.


College Career


Let's get this stat out of the way first: 4-4 passing, 62 yds, 4 TDs. Yes, you read that correctly. 4 passes/4 completions/4 Touchdowns. Sounds like an impressive quarter for a QB, but those are the season passing stats for South Dakota State’s running back, Pierre Strong, Jr.


Now that funky little stat line is out in the open, we may proceed to the stats that matter most for a running back. Strong is an impressive back by any measure, having established himself as the best RB prospect in the FCS.


Pierre Strong, Jr. has the makings of a fine NFL running back. At 5’11’ and 205 lbs, Strong is right at average size for the NFL. The Little Rock, Arkansas native led the FCS this year with 1,686 rushing yards, coupling that with 18 touchdowns. He also had 22 catches, and of course, those four TD passes. In fact, Strong’s only sub-1000-yard season was the 2021 shortened Spring season, and even then, he led his team to the FCS Championship Game.


Besides the numbers, what’s impressive about Strong?


Likely the most impressive part of Strong’s game is his vision and quickness getting in the open. He does not often meet resistance at the line of scrimmage, mostly due to his penchant for finding and attacking any gap in the defensive line. He is more elusive than fast, and though he is sizable and powerful enough to break tackles he is often in the open field before the D-Line can converge. Strong is patient, which seems counterintuitive in such a fast-paced game. But he follows his blockers and finds the opening.


1. Elusiveness

Note how Strong is able to slip potential tackles by his quick cuts.

2. Big playability

Once in the open field, he typically outruns anyone behind him; hence long touchdown runs.

3. Patience

Strong keenly waits for blocking to develop, allowing his blockers to pave his way.


Key Attributes

  • Elusiveness - Note how Strong is able to slip potential tackles by his quick cuts

  • Big play ability - Once in the open field, he typically outruns anyone behind him; hence long touchdown runs.

  • Patience - Happy to wait for blocking to develop, allowing his blockers to pave his way

What are the cautions?

Strong is a classic off-tackle runner. That said, he has not featured as a receiving back so his experience in that area is limited. He has shown good hands when catching, but the Jacks didn’t use him in that role enough for a true sample size. One criticism of Strong is run and pass blocking. He will need some time to develop those skills a bit more, to be a more complete NFL player. And then, of course, there’s his overall level of competition.


Those in the know are aware that while FCS players may be overlooked by casual fans or FBS-only fans, many fine FCS players have made great and even HOF-worthy careers (Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Walter Payton) for themselves in the NFL. And currently, there are upwards of 140 FCS players on NFL rosters (Cooper Kupp or Alex Singleton anyone?).


Tape Study

Big playability. It's a little hard to see in this clip, but he actually manages to step and bounce out to the left before he gets a face full of lineman. Great vision, to break out of trouble and off for an 80-yard touchdown



He has shown he can make catches out of the backfield, unfortunately for him at the Jacks he wasn't given a big workload on this side of the game. Here is an example of the impact he can have though, catching this pass on the run and taking it to the house.


A simple misdirection on this play gets him into the open field. He shows his speed and makes a player miss, by a simple change of direction which enables him to add big yardage before eventually being dragged down.



Another clip where even when faced with the trouble upfront, he doesn't panic, patiently runs past the challenge and into the open space for a decent game again.


Draft Predictions

Strong will likely be a later round pick—I’ve seen some predict a potential third or fourth-round selection. Let’s see him continue to “hone his craft,” as the saying goes. Keep an eye out for him in February and March, and perhaps we’ll see him playing on Sundays this Fall.


Highlights

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