The NFL Draft process is slowly beginning, with players declaring left and right for the Springtime event. In what has become a passing league, some of the more notable names fans look for are the wide receivers that will join the NFL ranks. One such receiver is Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) very own Rashee Rice.
A dynamic true senior receiver that has shown plenty on the field, Rice has already agreed to a Senior Bowl invite, thus guaranteeing his NFL Draft entrance and already necessary evaluation. But the question is how much is Rashee Rice worth in the coming draft? Day 1, 2 or 3?
That remains to be seen, but what can be done is a review of the prospect’s career thus far.
Rashee Rice: A true WR1?
Starting as a 3-star recruit out of North Richland Hills, Texas, Rashee Rice committed to SMU in August of 2018. Listed at 6-1 and 203 pounds, Rice saw action early as a freshman in 2019, catching 25 passes for 403 yards, boasting a 16.7 yard per reception average. This solidified him as a growing threat for big plays.
His reception total went up, eventually catching a whopping 96 passes this year as a senior and seeing nearly double the targets he saw as a junior, signifying his value to the Mustangs offense. Voted a captain, Rice broke out in 2022 as he amassed 1355 yards receiving, which was 11 yards shy of doubling his career high to that point. That also set the record for SMU’s single-season receiving record. He still averaged 14.1 yards per reception and nabbed 10 touchdowns to end the year. Rice was then voted first-team All-AAC.
Rice has traits galore
Looking at his evaluation, Rice is a receiver with good wheels and start/stop ability that assists in his route running. He is sudden enough to lose defenders behind his tracks but has enough power to not just burst and accelerate, but be a physical player as a ball carrier. With his thick frame, he can bully through contact and muscle his way into catches. Though he often leans on that trait often, Rashee Rice definitely profiles as a threat after the catch.
What is clear is Rashee Rice’s athletic ability. Rice has become known for acrobatic and incredible catches through his career, while demonstrating really good effort even in the run game. Combining his size, speed, agility, and effort creates a dynamic receiver that will show up somehow on Sundays for his teammates. His burst off the line of scrimmage can be rather inconsistent, but his release package is ample, allowing him to lull cornerbacks to sleep or blow right past them. He possesses really good long speed as well, making him a versatile receiving threat that can threaten defenses from all over the field. While he is not a burner per say, his speed is definitely noticeable on film.
Additionally, his hands are strong, complementing his speed and making him a reliable wide receiver for his quarterback. He secures the ball consistently away from his frame, and attacks the catch point, often not allowing the ball into his chest and highpointing deeper passes.
Where does Rashee Rice rank?
At this point, the wide receiver class is absolutely stacked, which could ultimately undo any sort of Day 1 projection for Rashee Rice. However, Rice is definitely a day 2 selection that projects as a mid-2nd round selection to this point. Considering his traits though and with an exceptional draft process including an impressive Senior Bowl week, Rice could somehow sneak into the first if a team prefers him over other prospects.
What is definitive regarding Rice is that, regardless of where scouts may project him, he has talent and could prove to have a promising professional career equitable to his stellar senior season.