There’s always some chatter about players sitting out of bowl games. Whether it be good or bad chatter, it’s almost inevitable.
Players have their own reasons for doing so. While some may see a bowl game as a chance to increase their draft stock, others may see it as the opposite, and mainly want to avoid an injury.
These guys are confident in their draft stock and felt they’ve already proved themselves. Put Rashee Rice in that category.
The SMU wideout opted out of the New Mexico Bowl against BYU and probably did so because of the reasons above.
Rice was arguably the top receiver in the Group of Five this season and was the No. 1 WR from a G5 conference preparing for the NFL Draft. In Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest draft rankings, Rice ranks in the top 10 of WR prospects — the only G5 wideout on that list.
What Team Drafted Rashee Rice?
Rice was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round with the 55th overall pick.
Rashee Rice Draft Profile
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Texas native led the country with 112.9 YPG last season. His 1,355 receiving yards ranked second, and his 96 receptions and eight catches per game both ranked fifth in the nation. He also hauled in 10 touchdowns, which was tied for 10th in the country. He surpassed 150 yards three times throughout the year and had six receptions for 74 yards and a score against CFB Playoff runner-up TCU.
One of Rice’s pros going into the draft is his ability to go up and make catches in traffic.
He has size and physicality to make plays on the ball, all while boasting explosiveness with the ball in his hands. On top of that, he has length that poses problems for many defensive backs. Nearly the same size, Rice gives off Brandon Aiyuk vibes.
Perhaps one downside for Rice is his route running isn’t necessarily the most crisp. Yet, his other qualities and ability to still find ways to get the ball in his hands can offset this. Probably the biggest knock on Rice, however, is his drops. He had nine drops last season, which was tied for the sixth most in the country.
I mentioned Rice’s nice outing he had against TCU, but against some tough conference opponents, Rice had his worst games of the season. In a 29-27 loss to Cincinnati, he had just four receptions for 41 yards and no touchdowns. In a 59-24 loss to Tulane late in the season, Rice had six receptions for a mere 41 yards and no scores. The four receptions and 41 yards are season-lows.
You can’t take away the quality of the defenses he was playing in these games, but I can imagine the Mustangs would have liked to see more consistency out of their biggest offensive weapon against these types of opponents.
Despite this, Rice put himself on the map this season, more than doubling his yards from his junior campaign while securing 32 more receptions.
I don’t know if there will be six wide receivers off the board in the first round like there was in the 2022 Draft, but there’s still a ton of WR talent in this class and Rice is among them. He still has the opportunity to potentially improve his stock and earn a little more money in the future with the NFL Combine coming up.
As the offseason approaches, there are a number of receiver-needy NFL teams, and Rice’s mold could fit in with Baltimore, New England, and Tennessee — all teams that could use some wideout depth.