Projected 40 time: 4.45
Strengths: Ball tracking
Weakness: Getting in and out of breaks
The curious case of Rashee Rice.
I've seen his name all over Twitter for a while now and whether you've fallen for the playmaker out of SMU yet or not is more a matter of if you've seen his highlight tape. He's made some BALLER catches, there's no denying it. But what is he doing the rest of the time?
Rice wasn't making much of a dent in the college wide receiver world until his senior season, outside of putting up touchdowns. In his sophomore and junior years, he combined for 14 touchdowns while wracking up 1353 receiving yards. Not a bad college career by any stretch. Things changed his senior year. He saw more volume and success and it turned him into an early candidate for early draft riser finishing his senior season with 96 catches for 1355 yards and 10 touchdowns.
That'll put you on the map.
Catches like this? Get you noticed. Rice plays above the rim as well as any receiver in this draft for his size. He picks up the ball early which comes back to tracking. Being able to locate the ball quickly puts the defender at your mercy. His timing on these catches is critical. He jumps through the hold and gives himself time to put his body between the ball and anyone that could make a play on it. He got shaken up here, but came back and kept playing. The circus catches and catch attempts are all over his tape.
He doesn't consistently show the ability to stack and clear from the corner but the outside transition in his stem creates a lane for him to work with at the sideline. Pay attention to his head. Showcasing the ball tracking downfield allows him to be a deep threat even without true burner speed. College rules for a catch are FUN. We're seeing it in the XFL now as well with one foot being the rule and it brings a different level to the circus catches we can see. I love it.
Route running is an art. Being able to break off corners and sink your hips to get in and out of your breaks is a big part of being successful at the NFL level. The routes for Rice have a consistency issue. His hips aren't always the most fluid and we can see that show up in the bottom clip. It kinda looks like it hurts for him to break and turn for the ball. The top clip is the bigger concern for me. He ran a ton of curl routes at SMU but when it comes to these throws we often see the QB throw with anticipation. Rice doesn't explode enough out of his breakdown and the timing gets thrown off, allowing the corner to make a play on the ball. Timing, timing, timing. It can make or break you in the NFL.