Why Rashee Rice is primed for a major leap forward on the field in 2024

Despite a rough off-season could Rashee Rice be poised for a break out in 2024?
AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens / Kathryn Riley/GettyImages

It's unfortunate that some poor, destructive choices by Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice have led to his offseason narratives being dominated by what he did off the field. That's because on the field, he had an excellent rookie season and he's been one of the most impressive players in mandatory mini-camp for the Chiefs.

The Rashee Rice hype train would be full speed ahead if not for his poor judgement. Rather than focusing on that let's talk about what the Chiefs could get from Rice in 2024.

Let's keep in mind a few things. First, Rice has not been suspended yet, and he might not get suspended at all this year depending on what the league does with the legal process.. Also, we don't know how long he will be suspended (feel free to speculate away).


I like to think about how a player was viewed this time last year as a healthy perspective on their career. For Rashee Rice he was rookie selcted in the 2nd round. The pick was met with a fair amount of criticism- at the time none of it was related to his off the field issues but instead his play style. Rice played on the outside almost exclusively at SMU and was a contested ball winner that relied on size and ball tracking to win regularly. Despite being highly productive at SMU many were confused by the selection and the fit in KC. Throw in the fact that he was puking from poor conditioning the early vibes weren't great.

However, the Chiefs took Rice and used him in a way nobody anticipated. They turned him into a YAC monster and he was highly productive as a rookie. Despite the Chiefs offense being fairly dysfunctional at times Rice was able to come in and have success fairly quickly. Rice tallied 938 yards in 2023 and 653 of those yards (69%) came completely from YAC! With an average depth of target of just 4.8 yards (lower than Blake Bell, Skyy Moore and Noah Gray) the Chiefs essentially turned Rice into a bowling ball that they rolled from the line of scrimmage.

Credit goes to the Chiefs coaching staff for identifying this skill set and developing it quickly. Rice did grow through out the season where he found more success running routes and on the outside. Early on Rice was being used in the slot mostly- partly due to his inability to get releases in man coverage (something the Chiefs saw lots of in 2023). Rice was about 50/50 with snaps in the slot and outwide. A good sign for a team that recently brought in Xavier Worthy and Hollywood Brown. Rashee Rice's development on the outside could be a key factor in the offense for 2024.


The million dollar question when it comes to Rice (besides if he can stay out of trouble) is: was his usage in 2023 out of necessity or a statement on his ability. It didn't take to realize that Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney and Marquez Valdez-Scantling weren't the answer to the Chiefs' offensive questions in 2023. Rice saw his role grow rapidly as the season progressed. Was that because he was the only play maker they had at the position? Or is it because that's really the only way he can win at the NFL level? There's some good news though...

Like I mentioned earlier Rice was a completely different player in college, so much so he said he modeled his game after DeAndre Hopkins. Instead he was used like Deebo Samuel. The following is from Dane Brugler's scouting report on Rice from the 2023 draft:

"With his ability to frame his catches, Rice times his leaps and wins jumps balls, leading the FBS with 18 catches of 20-plus air yards downfield in 2022. Though he makes tough catches look easy, he is also guilty of dropping some easy ones and will freelance at will. Overall, Rice must prove he has NFL-level consistency (in all areas) to compensate for his average speed, but he is a ball winner with natural instincts after the catch. He can be a quality contributor early in his NFL career."

One of the biggest questions looming over the receiver corps for 2024 is who will play and win on the outside. Hollywood Brown does play on the outside and in the slot but having him, Worthy, Mecole Hardman, Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney and potentially Nikko Remigio puts the Chiefs at an extreme size disadvange. Last year, the Chiefs relied on Marquez Valdez-Scantling to handle the "X" role. While he was dreadful for most of 2023 most of his best plays come with him winning with his size and speed. MVS was also an above average blocker, something the team relied on in the run and screen passing game.

The good news is Rice has done some of the things MVS did in the past. He has won on the outside before, he's been able to use his frame in contested catch situations and he still has the YAC skillset. If 2023 was Rashee Rice's ceiling as a player he's still a great player with a key role in the offense. Especially given the Chiefs emphasis on creating space underneath by stretching the field with Brown, Worthy and Hardman.

However, if Rice can tap into some of that role from SMU, retain his YAC ability (and stay out of trouble) the Chiefs could have a legitimate WR1. Which is important for the offense long term as the clock continues to tick on Travis Kelce's career and Hollywood Brown will likely only be in Kansas City for one year.

The Bottom Line

Ignoring the suspension Rice should be in for a big 2024 based upon his role from last year alone. All of the space he used running mesh, hooks and screens will be even more open with the speed the Chiefs now have. Between Rice, Noah Gray and Jared Wiley the Chiefs will continue to spell the aging Kelce too. With the X role as an option Rice does have a great oppurtunity ahead of him. He's the only receiver (besides Justyn Ross) who can live on the outside regularly and not be pressed or jammed by more physical corners.

It's a big year for Rashee Rice. What he does now on and off the field will be a key part in getting the Chiefs offense back to what it used to be. He has all the talent and ability it's now about development and growth.