NFL Football

Chiefs trade up to pick SMU WR Rashee Rice in 2nd round

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes spent some time before the NFL draft throwing passes to several prospects at his training base in Texas, and one of them was flashy SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice.

Turns out he will be throwing passes to Rice for a while.

The Chiefs traded up to get him in the second round Friday night, adding a physical and versatile talent to a rebuilt group of wide receivers. The Chiefs lost JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman in free agency, and Rice will be counted upon to help last year's second-round pick, Skyy Moore, and Kadarius Toney form the backbone of this year's group of receivers.

“I actually ran a couple of routes with Pat, did a couple of training sessions with him. He actually called me while coach was on the phone,” Rice said after the pick. “I'm going to call him back. I'm real excited about that.”

What was it like catching passes from the league's MVP?

“It was great. You can't complain about anybody like him,” Rice said with a big grin. “He made me feel like I was running the best routes in the world, putting it exactly where it needed to be.”

The Chiefs acquired the 55th pick along with a sixth-round selection from Detroit to move up from the No. 63 pick while kicking in fourth-round and seventh-round choices. That allowed the Super Bowl champions to leap other teams looking for a wide receiver and address one of their biggest holes on the offensive side of the ball.

“Wherever coach feels like I can make a play,” Rice said, “I'm there. It doesn't matter to me.”

Later in the night, the Chiefs traded up again - sending No. 95 and a sixth-round pick to Cincinnati for No. 92 - and landed Wanya Morris, a bruising offensive tackle from Oklahoma who could become an immediate starter.

Rice was a four-year contributor at Rice, and he probably could have declared for the draft after his junior season, but the Mustangs were losing wide receiver Danny Gray and tight end Grant Calcaterra. The ability to step into a bigger role during his senior season, along with polishing his game, convinced Rice to spend one more season at SMU.

He proceeded to catch 96 passes for 1,335 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

“I think it was worth it 100%,” Rice said. “I improved everywhere.”

By the time the Chiefs landed Morris in the third round, they had satisfied their three biggest needs in the draft; they took Kansas State pass rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah with the 31st overall pick Thursday night.

Morris was a five-star recruit to Tennessee, where he played briefly with current Chiefs offensive guard Trey Smith before transferring to Oklahoma. While there, Morris got to know Sooners star-turned-Chiefs center Creed Humphrey, and he started eight of nine games last season while also missing time with a shoulder injury.

“(Smith) was one of the first people who called me when I got picked,” Morris said. “I can't tell you how good it feels just to get those acknowledgments from guys you see doing great in the league, and know I'm going to be right there with them. We are going to start off where we left off. I'm excited.”

The Chiefs lost franchise left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and starting right tackle Andrew Wylie in free agency, and they signed Jawaan Taylor from Jacksonville with the intention of moving him from the right side of the line to the left. But that still leaves an opening at right tackle, and Morris will compete with Lucas Niang and others for the starting job.

“My versatility speaks for itself. I don't know where I'm going to go in there and play; I'm going to play wherever they need me,” he said. “I can't tell you how excited I am at this moment. Whatever they need me to play, I'm going to play.”

The Chiefs have a fourth-round pick, a fifth-rounder, two sixth-round selections and a seventh-rounder Saturday. They could still use some depth at defensive tackle, a run-stuffer would free up Chris Jones to make more plays, and perhaps at tight end, where Travis Kelce is still at the top of his game but turns 34 in October.

“I think anything is on the table whether it be offensive line, more defensive line, cornerbacks or receivers,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. “That's where you stay true to your board. ... I think anything is on the table for sure.”


AP NFL: and

Updated April 28, 2023

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2023 by STATS PERFORM.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS PERFORM is strictly prohibited.