The SMU Mustangs have an impressive résumé of NFL wide receiver pedigree. Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, James Proche, Danny Gray, Trey Quinn, and Aldrick Robinson are among the receivers the program has converted into NFL Draft selections since 2010.
And now, there’s another. Rashee Rice heard his name called by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 55th pick of the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Rice was the seventh wide receiver selected in the draft and became the fifth SMU receiver taken off the board since 2018. He is also the highest-selected Mustang since Courtland Sutton went 40th overall in 2018. At pick No. 55, Rice was the first AAC player selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Rice set the SMU single-season receiving yards record last fall with 1,355 yards — good for third place in the entire FBS. No FBS receiver averaged more receiving yards per game than Rice’s 112.9, and he dazzled with six performances exceeding 120 yards in 12 contests. With this yardage output complemented by 96 receptions and 10 touchdowns, Rice was named to the AP All-American Second Team and All-AAC First Team.
The 6’1”, 204 pound receiver was largely responsible for guiding the SMU offense to seventh nationally in passing yards per game and 12th in scoring. Rice’s reception total nearly tripled the amount of the next closest SMU receiver and his receiving yardage total exceeded that of the next three leading Mustangs combined.
Rice received an invite to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis where he tallied elite vertical and broad jump numbers and clocked in at 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He also participated in the 2023 Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, showcasing his talents against this draft’s top cornerback prospects.
Rice has been lauded for a reliable set of hands in addition to his ball-tracking ability. However, crispness in route running and gaining separation against press coverage were concerns that arose from Senior Bowl practices. Still, Rice’s talent is undeniable and he looks poised to become a forceful possession receiver at the pro level with an impressive blend of strength, speed, and size.
He joins the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, where he’ll line up alongside a generational talent in quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ current receiver room is a youthful one, featuring Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, and Skyy Moore, who were drafted in 2018, 2021, and 2022, respectively. Additional receiver depth in Kansas City includes Richie James, Justin Watson, Imhir Smith-Marsette, and Justyn Ross, but given Rice’s status as a second round draft pick, he should be an imperative piece of the receiver rotation immediately.
Rice reunites with his former college quarterback Shane Buechele, who is a member of the Chiefs’ roster.