2025 NFL Draft Scouting Report- James Pearce Jr.

James Pearce

  • James Pearce Jr., 6-5/242
  • Defensive End
  • Tennessee

James Pearce Jr. Prospect Preview

By Charlie Campbell

Career Recap:

Pearce was one of the breakout players in college football in 2023. After totaling only five tackles in 2022, Pearce was an impact player for Tennessee as a sophomore. He totaled 28 tackles with 10 sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, two passes batted, and an interception last season.


2024 Season Outlook::

Pearce will see some quality talent during his junior season. The best games to watch him include Oklahoma (Sep. 21), Alabama (Oct. 19), and Georgia (Nov. 16).


Prospect Summary:

In the passing-driven NFL, teams always look for young edge rushers who can pressure the quarterback. Thus, there should be plenty of teams interested in drafting Pearce. After his breakout season in 2023, Pearce showed that he is a dangerous quarterback hunter capable of making game-changing plays. There is no doubt that Pearce has next-level ability and some God-given traits for hunting the quarterback.

For the NFL, Pearce is a pure speed rusher off the edge. He has a fast first step and instant acceleration to get upfield. If a tackle is slow out of his stance or is late to get depth in his pass set, Pearce is dangerous to produce a blow-by that gets to the quarterback in a blur. Pearce has the speed to turn the corner with quick twitch to dart to the inside when tackles overset to the outside. With smooth agility and explosion, Pearce has dangerous inside/outside speed rush potential. On plays where Pearce is blocked, he can redirect to chase down a scrambling quarterback, and Pearce will give a second effort. With his explosion and acceleration, Pearce flashed some speed-to-power potential occasionally last season. Pearce has the potential to be an impact player in the pass rush.

In the pass rush, though, Pearce does need development to take on pro offensive tackles. He needs to get stronger to chop and shed blocks. He also could use development on more pass-rushing moves, as he is very basic with just speed rushes right now.

Pearce needs a lot of development for the NFL as a run defender. There are plays in the ground game where he gets absolutely destroyed. Pearce will get pushed back out of his gap and pancaked five yards downfield. There is no doubt that Pearce has to get stronger in his upper and lower body to defend the run. Regularly he gets covered up, struggles to get off the block, and gets pushed out of his gap.

Pearce could be smaller than his listed numbers, and that would suggest that in a 4-3 defense, he needs to move to outside linebacker in base and rushes off the edge in the sub package. Pearce could fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. NFL defenses play roughly 70 percent of their snaps in the sub package, and sometimes entire games in sub. Thus, Pearce is still a starter because he would be a mainstay as an edge rusher in the sub.


2025 NFL Draft Expectations:

Entering the 2024 season, Pearce looks like he has early-round potential for the 2025 NFL Draft.


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