Prospect for the Pack: SMU WR Rashee Rice

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The Green Bay Packers hold three picks within the top 100 of the 2023 NFL draft and may eventually gain an additional pick or two from the New York Jets, who have three picks (Nos. 13, 42, and 43) within the first two rounds.

Who could be legitimate targets for general manager Brian Gutekunst in that range?

Between now and the draft, Packers Wire will periodically break down one potential prospect capable of landing in Green Bay on either Day 1 or 2 of the NFL Draft.

Next up in the series is SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice:

Size, athleticism

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Height: 6-0
Weight 204
Hand: 9.5″
Arm Length: 32.75″

40-yard dash: 4.51 seconds
Vertical jump: 41″
Broad jump: 10’08”
Shuttle: 4.23 seconds
3-cone: 5.58 seconds

Relative Athletic Score: 9.30

From a measurement and athletic testing standpoint, Rashee Rice very much fits what the Packers typically covet at wide receiver. Even going back to the Ted Thompson days, Green Bay has often preferred bigger-bodied pass-catchers that stand at least 6’0″ tall and weigh at least 200 pounds. Rice checks both those boxes. He also posted an elite RAS above 8.0, something that 30 of Brian Gutekunst’s 42 RAS-eligible draft picks have done.

What he can do, what to know

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– Rice is an experienced player and was a high-volume yet relatively efficient target at SMU. He was targeted 76 times in 2020 and then 79 times in 2021. This past season, however, Rice was thrown to a whopping 156 times. For his career, he averaged 13.3 yards per catch with 25 touchdowns, according to PFF.

– Rice spent the majority of his snaps lined up on the boundary but still played in the slot about one-third of the time. That ability to move around the formation is important to playing receiver in Matt LaFleur’s offense.

– Speaking of importance to LaFleur, Rice is also a very capable and willing blocker in the run game.

– There wasn’t a part of the field that Rice didn’t do damage in. In 2022, 40 of his targets came at 20 yards or more downfield. 35 targets were in the 10-19 yard range, 48 from 0-9 yards, and another 33 behind the line of scrimmage.

– Rice was very good with the ball in his hands. This past season he ranked third in total YAC and 23rd in average YAC. He was also fifth among all receivers in yards per route run, a pass-catching efficiency metric from PFF.

– For more on what Rice could offer the Packers, here is what Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote in his pre-draft report:

Talented but enigmatic receiver with game tape that shows a lack of consistency and impressive ball skills. Rice has enough top-end speed to attack vertically but has a tendency for nonchalant running on intermediate routes and zone-beaters underneath. In one game you might see terrific ball-tracking and jump-ball victories followed by frustrating drops and a lack of physicality in fighting back on contested catches. The route inefficiencies can be cleaned up, but Rice must play with better consistency and urgency to find long-term NFL reps.

How he fits

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Just as the Packers did with Aaron Rodgers early on in his career as a starter, providing Jordan Love with more playmakers in the passing game should be high on Brian Gutekunst’s to-do list. Christian Watson looks like he can be a true No. 1 receiver, while there is a lot to like about what we saw from Romeo Doubs as a rookie. However, this is a position that still has a lot of question marks. Rice is someone who can be on the field for all three downs with his blocking abilities, and he has the versatility to be moved around the formation from play to play or even pre-snap. Both aspects will help LaFleur achieve that illusion of complexity that he has talked about in the past. Rice would give Love a potential high-volume target who can be effective at four levels of the field, along with some much-needed YAC ability as well. With LaFleur’s offense able to scheme players open, finding ways to get Rice the ball in space could create big play potential while also making things a bit easier on Love.

NFL Comp: Chris Godwin

Oct 1, 2016: Chris Godwin (12), Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Marino of The Draft Network would compare Rashee Rice to Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin.

Godwin stands 6’1″ tall and weighs 209 pounds. He posted a RAS of 9.66 when selected in the third round by the Buccaneers in the 2017 NFL Draft. In the pros, Godwin has played roughly 60% of his snaps from the slot and the other 40% out wide. Godwin has been an efficient high-volume target for the Bucs, with at least 114 passes thrown his way each season since 2019. Of his 150 targets in 2022, 35 came behind the line of scrimmage with 77 in the 0-9 yard range. He would also rank tied for seventh among qualified receivers in YAC average.

Highlights

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire