2007 NFL Draft Breakdown: WR Sidney Rice
Teams Showing Most Interest: Atlanta, San Francisco, San Diego
Scout.com Draft Ranking: No. 5 wide receiver
GamecockAnthem.com Projected Draft Round: 2nd Round
Bio: Rice was a two year starter for the Gamecocks, who was on pace to shatter the South Carolina career receiving records before declaring for the NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season. He broke onto the scene in 2005 by totaling 70 catches for 1,143 yards and 13 touchdowns, on his way to garnering multiple Freshman All-American honors. Teams keyed in on him more during his sophomore season, but he still managed to rack up 72 receptions for 1,090 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2006. He leaves USC as the career leader in touchdown receptions (23) and 100-yard receiving games (11). He also owns the single season records for most receiving yards (1,143) and touchdowns (13).
Strengths: At 6'4" and 202 pounds, Rice possesses excellent size for a receiver. He has long arms and uses his frame well to make plays on the ball. A former basketball player, Rice has very good leaping ability, which makes him a tough match up for smaller defenders. He has incredibly soft hands and good hand-eye coordination. Rice is not a burner, as he was timed at 4.56 seconds at the scouting combine, but he runs crisp routes for a young player and is able to create separation from defenders.
Weaknesses: After playing only two years on the college level and declaring for a draft that is deep at wide receiver, Rice's biggest shortcoming is his experience. He is still considered raw in some facets of the game, and with only average speed, he is not a threat to make many plays after the catch. Some scouts have also questioned his strength.
Outlook: If Rice had stayed one more year in college, he likely would have been one of the first wide receivers taken in the 2008 draft. However, in this year's draft, he is expected to fall to the early second round. Whichever team selects him will be landing a player with the size and athleticism to blossom into a top tier pro receiver down the road.
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