Bears Draft Target: Rashee Rice
Raymond Carlin - USA Today Sports

Bears Draft Target: Rashee Rice

by - Senior Writer -

Things will get very interesting in the Chicago Bears camp in the coming months. Not only does this team have the most money to spend in the league, but they currently occupy the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. A selection that comes with a ton of pressure and could drastically change this franchise's direction.

Depending on who you ask, there are mixed feelings as to whether or not the Bears keep the pick or trade it away for additional picks. Should they keep it, the consensus would be that the team drafts either Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr to help shore up their defense. Should they trade the pick, those names will still be on the board, as a QB will most likely be taken No. 1 overall.

However, there are additional reports of the Bears not only trading once in the first round, but twice to secure an early and late-round pick. That is what we will be discussing today, as a late first-round target could be Rashee Rice, WR, out of SMU. Given Justin Fields's growth in year two, there is little doubt that he is the Bears QB going forward.

The next step would be to give him more weapons to maximize his talent. Chicago tried to add some WR help last season, but a rash of injuries and unproductive seasons hampered his growth as a passer. Look for things to be better next season, with Darnell Mooney, and Chase Claypool set to lead the WR room.

You also have to consider the possibility of adding a rookie at that position, with Rice a real option in the later stages of the first round. The 6-2 203-pound senior has all the tools to be a No. 1 in this league, even if it takes him a few years to reach that level. While playing with former Oklahoma and now Wisconsin QB Tanner Mordecai, Rice put up great numbers as he hauled in 235 receptions for 3111 yards and 25 scores in his career.

That includes a 2022 season that Rice brings in 98 passes for 1355 yards and 10 TDs. Say what you want about the competition that SMU played, but regardless those are great numbers and numbers any team needing WR help will look come draft weekend. Given his size, Rice has the ability to play through coverage and can overpower smaller defenders.

Rice has not only been able to break arm tackles consistently but has always been known for YAC yards, which is a lost art in the NFL game. Although not the tallest WR, Rice wins most of the jump balls thrown his way as his strong hands help him secure possession against his opponents. He reminds me a lot of Alshon Jeffrey when he was with the Bears, but if you had to point to a WR in the league now, Adam Thielen or Allan Lazard come to mind.

Despite the great numbers, Rice is far from a finished product and needs to improve his route-running ability at the next level. He is not a polished route runner, and most of the plays he won came by overpowering smaller defenders. Rice is not a burner, but he does have good enough speed to win on the outside. However, an offense will have to be designed around his strengths, as he could limit some of what a QB can do.

Given that Chicago had the worst passing offense in the NFL last season, look for them to address the WR position in the NFL draft. Apart from Mooney and Claypool, the Bears have no one else under contract, as Byron Pringle, N'Keal Harry, and Dante Pettis are all heading to free agency.

Velus Jones should get more opportunities in 2023, but as a wide receiver, Rice has better hands than Velus Jones Jr. Despite being slower, he shouldn’t struggle to generate yards after the catch with the ball in his hands. Rice may not be a pure WR, but he is an athlete who can make a difference in this offense.

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