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Why Chiefs rookie WR Rashee Rice is what the doctor ordered.

The Chiefs drafted their version of Davante Adams and his name is Rashee Rice.

(Photo by: Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


The NFL’s top wide receivers have been evolving in recent seasons and it’s currently having an impact on how we evaluate and value certain traits at the position. Last draft, the Chiefs drafted Skyy Moore considered the next Jeremy Maclin due to his route running ability and strong ball skills, highlighted by his spectacular yards after-catch ability. Yet, that has not turned out well for the ex-Western Michigan wideout but after scoring his first touchdown in the final game of the season in Super Bowl 57, Let’s hope that Moore will not have to deal with being able to get consistent playing time due to any learning curve that will plague him to this day.

A player with Moore’s skill set would be considered a first-round selection in 2023. The most talked about receivers in this Draft thus far were Quentin Johnston, Jaxon Smith-Njigiba, Rashee Rice, Cedric Tillman, Jonathan Mingo, and Zay Flowers, for the most part. See the outlier of the group? That would be SMU’s Rice at 6’2” and weighing in at 204 pounds. Coming into the 2022 season Rice was considered one of the more highly touted receiving prospects in college football. Yet, despite taking a huge leap in his development from 2021 to 2022, Rice’s stock rose due to his impressive Combine performance. The Chiefs selected Rice with the 55th overall pick in the 2023 Draft, trading away picks 63, 122, and 249 to receive picks 55 and 194 from the Detroit Lions.

Before I go any further, however, I’d like to attempt to show Chiefs fans why should stop complaining and read why they should be celebrating that we have drafted a guy that I believe will instant and can become a 1000-yard receiver as a rookie and the player comparison of Rashee Rice will surprise many in the Kingdom.

Who is Rashee Rice?

Originally from North Richland Hills, TX, Rice was a 3-star recruit and the number 36 overall player in the state of Texas. He committed to SMU played in ten games as a freshman and had 25 receptions for 403 yards and one touchdown. Rice became a starter during his sophomore season and caught 48 passes for 683 yards and five touchdowns. During his time in SMU, he earned the trust of then-teammate and now Chiefs backup QB Shane Buechele as his go-to guy. Together with Buechele (2019-2020), Rice performed to a high standard. Over four collegiate seasons, Rice totaled 233 catches, 3,111 yards, and 25 touchdowns. He earned first-team all-conference honors in 2022 including AP 2nd-team All-American and was invited to the Senior Bowl this offseason. Rice was the Mustangs’ main Possession receiver. Possession receivers are usually not the greatest immediate separators but have an extraordinary ability to create separation at the point of attack with their play strength to win contested catches. At least the very good ones can anyway. Those types of receivers in particular have made evaluators cautious this Draft season.

The best two NFL examples for this group are the Raiders WR Davante Adams at 6’1”, 210 pounds, and former Cowboys WR Dez Bryant at 6’2”, 225 pounds. Bryant was one of the best 50/50 ball receivers of his generation, despite his lack of separation skills. He’s not the greatest route runner as he only really excels at slants, hitches, fades, and the occasional deep dig, but he’s managed to make it work up until 2017. Adams wasn’t the fastest receiver in the 2014 Draft but he’s called the route king for a reason. The 2023 NFL Draft had plenty of wide receivers that fit this classification, but all have raw abilities that they will need to develop further. Rice has that opportunity at 6’2”, 204 pounds.

My Pro Comparison: Davante Adams

Rice is without a doubt the best of the possession receivers in the Draft. I was not impressed with Rice after my initial study of him because of his route tree he ran at SMU, but after evaluating more tape I’ve become fond of his game. He’s somehow earned a reputation for not being able to separate, but that’s not entirely true. Rice is a fluid X- receiver that can bend inside and make hard breaks out of his routes just like Davante Adams. Rice displays very good body control in midair to turn and reposition himself with a defender on his hip to make difficult catches. The SMU receiver opened a lot of eyes at the Combine running a 4.51 40 and a 40.5-inch vertical jump.

The most encouraging note on Rice for Chiefs fans is that he has been improving his game from year to year. Rice took a big leap during his junior season. He was more consistent with his hand technique (better hands than Johnston), worked back to the ball more often, improved his route running, and displayed dedication to work on his blocking ability. Before he join the Raiders, Adams has proven to be an exceptional route runner since being drafted by the Packers in the second round in 2014. He has proved that he’s been an exceptional route runner ever since. After a mild start to his NFL career, the receiver broke through in the 2016 season. He had 75 receptions, 997 yards receiving, and 12 touchdowns.

The 12 touchdowns were the second-most in the NFL that season. The following season, Adams made the first of his five Pro Bowls with another double-digit touchdown season with 10. Rice is faster, quicker, and more explosive than Adams coming out of Fresno State. That should leave a thought in the Chiefs fan’s minds… He is probably fantasizing about how Rice could potentially put up similar numbers to Ja’Marr Chase in his rookie season with the Bengals.

How Will the Chiefs Use Him?

Rice projects to play the X-receiver role. Rice is a good route runner, especially against press coverage like Adams, and possesses strong hands at the catch point. With Smith-Schuster now playing New England, Rice will have to attempt to fill Smith-Schuster’s role as the team’s X receiver. His physical style of play and aggressive demeanor with the ball in his hands is reminiscent of how Smith-Schuster attacked defenders in the open field. Rice fits the mold of what the Chiefs like in their X receivers and he should hopefully make a sizable contribution to the team in year one with plenty of targets to go around. He’s a guy that absorbs contact extremely well in traffic situations. Strongly contested catch receiver with very good 50/50 ball skills.

A true finisher with the ball in his hands. Loves contact and attempts to run through defenders for run after the catch. Able to break low tackles using a violent stiff arm and a strong lower half to churn yardage after initial contact. He was known to have occasional concentration drops when he loses track of the ball on it’s path to his hands or attempting to determine what he was going to do with the ball prior to securing the catch. That problem is easily fixable. Adams had the same problem coming out of Fresno State.


The Chiefs just drafted an X receiver in Rashee Rice that take advantage of the intermediate areas of the field. He’s a threat inside the 20 on fades and back shoulder throws where he can create strong positioning to body opposing cornerbacks which is good news for Travis Kelce and the other receivers. Overall, Rice is already a Solid WR2 who may struggle to find his way due to his style of play in the first few months. By Week 6-8, I expect him to be the Chiefs WR1 of the future who excels in the intermediate areas of the field and in contested catch situations. I myself am really excited to add him as another firepower weapon for Patrick Mahomes, and Rice is going to mix in very well with our offense. Adding Rice to the receiving corps solidifies their depth and gives them a young option going into the future amid contract concerns with Marquez Valdes-Scantling having an opt-out in his contract following next season. The team has big plans for the former SMU product in their offense. You want a possession receiver who is a safety blanket but a possession that can beat man-to-man and have that type of quickness and the speed to play outside but the change of direction to play inside like Rashee Rice. We got a really equipped guy who’s been really well-coached. Chiefs fans, get ready for a player who is ready to contribute right away. The team seems to have big plans for Rice right away in Andy Reid’s offense and we should all be excited. Like Terrell Owens said, “Get Your Popcorn, Ready.” I predict that Rice should catch 60-70 passes for 800-1000 yards and we can expect to more TDs scored from Rice in 2023 than Smith-Schuster’s 3 TD scores in 2022 proving that Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach is a genius for finding his replacement for a lesser cost.

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