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On the Draft Board: SMU’s Rashee Rice

Kansas City is meeting with a wide receiver who projects as a Day 2 selection.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night, it was reported that the Kansas City Chiefs would be hosting Rashee Rice for a top-30 visit.

What is a top-30 visit?

A top-30 visit allows an NFL team to bring a draft prospect into Kansas City for various evaluations. Teams can use these visits to measure a player's physical traits, test their football knowledge on the whiteboard, gauge their physical agility and simply just get a feel for their personality.

Teams are only allowed 30 of these visits, which is where the name comes from. These visits can be viewed in several ways — sometimes, they can stem from a genuine interest in a prospect, or they might show false interest in a position or potential for other teams come draft day. The Chiefs can use their top-30 visits for prospects that could go in the top 20 of the draft to players who will go undrafted.

Here's what to know about the draft prospect:

Background

Rashee Rice had multiple offers from power five conference schools coming out of high school, and he chose Southern Methodist University (SMU). SMU is known for developing NFL-caliber receiver talent, including Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley.

Rice has all the physical traits to be a starting outside receiver in the NFL. Standing at 6'0" and weighing in at 204 lbs. with 9.5" hands and 32.75" arms, he has the ideal length for the position. He's also a dynamic athlete in terms of speed and acceleration. Rice has a habit of making the first tackler miss and gaining extra yards after the catch. He has all the tools to play both in the slot and on the outside at the next level.

Despite being a savvy route runner there are some concerns about his ability to run an NFL-level route tree due to the offense he played in at college. Rice has a habit of making "circus" catches at times and then dropping some that should come as routine. Drops have been an issue for him in the past. While he does have the area quickness to be a threat in the NFL, his long speed might limit him vertically for his next team.

Once considered a potential first-round pick, a lackluster Senior Bowl performance now projects Rice as a second or third-round selection.

How he fits with the Chiefs

The Chiefs have a clear need at wide receiver, as Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore are the only wideouts returning from 2022. While the Chiefs have some wild cards in Justyn Ross and John Ross, the receiver depth is definitely lacking.

Rice makes sense for the Chiefs as he does a number of things they like. He is versatile from the slot and outside — with run-after-the-catch traits and athleticism. Considering the unknown trajectory of Kadarius Toney as a route runner, the Chiefs really only have one player who profiles to be an outside receiver in Valdes-Scantling.

Knowing how the Chiefs take time to develop receivers, Rice could be another addition to a young core of Moore, Toney and potentially Justyn Ross. Rice can do many things JuJu Smith-Schuster did for the Chiefs' offense in 2022. His contested-catch ability and ball-tracking would be among the best of the current receiver core.

The bottom line

Rice is a great embodiment of the receiver position in this draft. The receivers have strong traits that give a scout reasons to get excited, yet a few downfalls keep him from being a genuine Round 1 talent. Rice is likely the type of player the Chiefs will be picking from if they don't trade up in the first round for one of the main three receivers (Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston and Jordan Addison).

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid certainly has a "type" at receiver, and Rice meets some of those components — but not all. As the offense continues to evolve with Patrick Mahomes and an aging Travis Kelce, it is reasonable to think the Chiefs will invest in some larger receivers with contested-catch ability rather than their traditional, speed-first receivers.

Rice would fit nicely into the 2023 receiving core and beyond.

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