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Rashee Rice: Does His Incident Affect the Chiefs Draft Strategy? | KC’s WR Problem

USA Today

Here’s a pragmatic, objective look at how Rice’s incident will impact the Chiefs decision making process going into the draft.

Suspension Incoming?

As of the time of writing this, no suspension has been handed out, however, with the current information we have, a 4-6 game suspension is not unlikely.

Past Experience with WR Controversy Heading Into the Draft

During the 1st round of the 2019 NFL draft, an incident involving Tyreek Hill surfaced, in which a recording was released where he told his then his fiancé that she and their child “should be afraid of me too, b****”. This event stunned the league and the Chiefs top brass alike, resulting in an indefinite suspension of all team activities until a final decision on his situation could be made.

Fearing the worst, the Chiefs opted to select Georgia’s speedy WR, Mecole Hardman over receivers like D.K. Metcalf, Diontae Johnson, and Terry McLaurin. Mecole Hardman’s ability to stretch the defense vertically and use his speed/agility to produce YAC (the 2 best aspects of Tyreek’s game) were the reasons why he was drafted, and who he was drafted by. Andy Reid’s offense is designed to put players like Jackson, Hill, Hardman, and Rice in positions where their speed and athleticism and be utilized in open space. However, what happens when there is no one reliable enough to take over that position?

Construction of the Current Roster

For simplicities sake, WR rooms can be broken down into 3 different positions (X, Y, & Z).

The X wide receiver is usually a bigger, stronger, and more physical than the other WRs, and they line up on their own side of the formation. They have to have the ability to shrug off contact, get open downfield, and make contested catches. The best examples include Deandre Hopkins, Julio Jones, and Justin Jefferson.

The Y wide receiver is usually a TE/WR that lines up on the line opposite side of the X. They usually don’t face as much press coverage, can block well, and can beat the LB/Ss that line up against them. Examples would be Travis Kelce, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Anquan Bolden.

Finally, Z (slot) wide receivers are usually the smaller, quicker receivers that can get open in space, are usually in motion pre-snap, and are never against press coverage. These players would include Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, and Rashee Rice.

The Chiefs have a plethora of Z wide receivers on their team, however, can they trust any of them to be reliable? Given the prior performance of these WRs, the Chiefs cannot afford to start the season with an old Travis Kelce, the newly acquired Hollywood Brown, our only known reliable WR in Justin Watson, and MAJOR question marks in Toney, Skyy, and Ross. The cupboard is BARE even with Rice on the roster and playing games.

So What Do the Chiefs Do?

Whether or not Rashee gets suspended should have no effect on what position the Chiefs draft at 32, however, it probably will have an effect on who they draft. If the target at pick 32 was Brian Thomas Jr., Adonai Mitchell, or Troy Franklin, it is now Ladd McConkey, Roman Wilson, or Xavier Worthy. This would be a huge mistake. Not only because of my personal WR prospect evaluations, but because the Chiefs would be 1 Travis Kelce injury away from an offensive nightmare, with a receiving corps led by a rookie.

Potential Problems

With the Bills trading away Stefon Diggs (and the other teams in front of the Chiefs that need a WR), the Chiefs will NEED to trade up to pick 19 (Rams), 23 (Vikings), or 24 (Cowboys) in order to get “their guy”. Luckily, they just acquired some draft capital from Tennessee (3rd Rd 2025) that would be perfect to move up.

Conclusion

The outcome of the Rashee Rice incident isn’t looking good and no matter which way you slice it, the Chiefs DESPERATELY need help at the WR position. Personally, I’m not worried though. The Chiefs have always found a way to win and I’m sure someone will step up, especially when the 1st three-peat is on the line!

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