By: Chip Turner
Monty Rice – Georgia
6’0” – 238 pounds
If there’s one player in the 2021 NFL Draft who benefited from a better-than-expected 40 time at his Pro Day, it’s Monty Rice. He ran a 4.58, which, while not blazing fast, certainly raised some eyebrows. It was odd reviewing Rice immediately after Tony Fields; in watching his film, the first thought that came to mind was, “This kid reminds me a LOT of Tony Fields…but he’s just a little bit faster and a little bit better against the pass.” That’s not a bad thing; Rice has a nose for the football, and one thing that stands out to me is his sideline-to-sideline pursuit of ball carriers. He lacks ideal size, but he seemed to get off blocks decently in pursuit and closes very quickly. He’s going to be one of those guys in the NFL who will have opposing fans yelling at kick returners and RB to run north to south rather than laterally. While he’s unlikely to be a three-down LB in the NFL, he doesn’t appear completely lost in coverage.
As listed above, Rice isn’t going to scare any opposing QBs; he simply lacks the fluidity to change direction with NFL receivers. He’s a chase-down LB who gets pointed in one direction and unleashed. While that’s not a bad thing, it will limit his utilization at the next level to a two-down linebacker and special teams player.
With the increasing popularity of three-down LB in the NFL, Rice will have limited appeal to NFL teams, but the things that he does, he does quite well. In this LB class, he’ll probably be a mid-to-late Day Three pick.