The Kansas City Chiefs added to their offensive arsenal on Friday night with the selection of former SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice.
Here are five things to know about the newest member of the offense.
1. Rice just completed a truly prolific season in 2022.
The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Rice caught 96 passes for 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2022, making him one of only three FBS players to tally at least 1,300 receiving yards last season. He also led the FBS with 112.9 receiving yards-per-game, earning Second-Team All-America recognition for his efforts.
Rice's impressive senior season wrapped up a historic career at SMU, as he left school ranking in the top five in touchdown receptions (25), receiving yards (3,111) and catches (233) in SMU history. Those numbers are indicative of a player who was consistently productive throughout his time on campus. In fact, Rice hauled in at least 45 catches for 650+ yards and 5+ touchdowns in each of the last three seasons.
2. He thrives in contested-catch situations.
Rice was lauded for his body control throughout the pre-draft process, garnering recognition as one of the best ball-winners in this class. His leaping ability is a big part of that, which he displayed at the NFL Scouting Combine with the top vertical jump (41 inches) of any receiver.
Here's more from the folks at Pro Football Focus, who credited Rice with 16 contested catches in 2022:
"Rice's ability to adjust to the ball in the air is as good as it gets in this draft class, and he also has some of the best body control in the draft class. That shows with his work at the catch point (16 contested catches last fall)."
The Athletic's Dane Brugler agreed with that assessment in his pre-draft analysis, writing the following:
"Rice has outstanding body control, hand-eye coordination and arm length to consistently win at the catch point. He also has explosive leaping skills and play strength as a high-pointer. Rice times his leaps and wins jumps balls, leading the FBS with 18 catches of 20-plus air yards downfield in 2022."
For what it's worth, Pro Football Focus compared Rice's skillset to that of former Minnesota Vikings' and current Carolina Panthers' wide receiver Adam Thielen.
3. Rice is also a playmaker after the catch.
The 23-year-old Rice is more than just a jump-ball receiver, however, as he was also dangerous after the catch throughout his time with the Mustangs. His 33 receptions on screen passes ranked ninth among all players, and his 19 broken tackles ranked 23rd.
Here's more from Brugler, who put it simply enough: "Rice catches the ball with yards-after-the-catch in mind."
Chiefs' Assistant General Manager Mike Borgonzi expressed a similar sentiment following Day 2, saying that Rice is like a tailback once he has the football in his hands:
"He's a big kid and he's explosive. He'll go up and get the football, and once he catches it, he's violent. He's like a running back after the catch. That's a big part of our offense here."
4. He's a willing blocker who can bring it to the opposition.
Rice boasts a sturdy frame and deployed it effectively even when he didn't get the football, serving as powerful blocker when called upon. Here's more from Dane Brugler:
"Rice blocks with the same aggressiveness that he attacks the football."
It's not the most exciting of attributes, but Rice's ability to block will be useful within the Chiefs' offensive scheme.
5. Rice grew up in the Fort Worth area.
A star at Richland High School in North Richland Hills, Texas, Rice received more than two dozen offers before ultimately choosing the Mustangs. In addition to football, Rice also lettered in basketball and track in high school, setting personal bests in the 200 meters (23.26) and triple jump (40 feet 11 inches), per Dane Brugler.
Rice went on to show off his tremendous athleticism throughout his time at SMU, and now all these years later, he's headed to Kansas City as a member of the world champions.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice in the 2nd Round (Pick 55) of the second day of 2023 NFL Draft.