Rashee Rice is the newest piece of the Chiefs’ offense after Kansas City selected him in the second round of the NFL Draft out of SMU. The 6’1″, 189 LB wideout was productive in college, but Andy Reid’s history with rookie wide receivers suggests fans should temper expectations for Rice.
In fact, a closer look at the production of rookie receivers under Reid with the Chiefs shows that Rice is likely in for a “redshirt” season and should only fit into Kansas City’s plans should injuries pile up.
Let’s look at first-year wideouts under Reid in Kansas City and see what lessons can be applied to Rice.
Rookie Wide Receivers Under Andy Reid
Since Andy Reid became the Chiefs’ coach in 2013, the organization has drafted nine wide receivers. This is their production in their rookie season:
On average, first-year receivers have produced just over 16 catches, about 201 yards, and less than two touchdowns in their rookie seasons.
Da’Ron Brown, Tremon Smith (who moved to DB), and Cornell Powell putting up zeroes skewed these numbers a bit. Even removing those three players though, we’re left with averages of 24.83 receptions, 301.67 yards, and 2.16 TDs.
Reid’s offense is famously complicated and growing pains make sense as players adjust to the speed and complexity of the professional game.
The exception in the table above, Tyreek Hill, quickly became one of the best receivers in the entire league thanks to a one-of-one skillset. Unless Rice is that, we shouldn’t expect a big year from the rookie.
What This Means for Rashee Rice
I’m optimistic about Rice’s long-term potential in Kansas City. He hauled in 96 passes for 1,355 yards and 10 TDs in his final year at SMU, showcasing an adept understanding of the route tree and an ability to beat defenders at all three levels of the defense.
He’s physical at the catch point but shifty enough to elude defenders and create yards after the catch as well, characteristics that pair well with Patrick Mahomes and Reid’s offense.
Long-term, Rice’s skillset meshes well with Skyy Moore’s. You can envision the two starting for the Chiefs in the future, but it’ll take time for Rice to get acclimated to the pro game.
Rice is not a player I’m targeting with prop bets this year or in fantasy football drafts given all of these factors. I’m a fan of his and think he’ll be worth targeting in his second and third years, but don’t expect monstrous production right away.
If all goes according to plan for the Chiefs, Rice likely won’t see the field much. He may wind up thrown into the fire due to injury, but that certainly won’t be the initial plan.