Chiefs GM Brett Veach thinks rookie WR Rashee Rice can help fill JuJu Smith-Schuster role

The Kansas City Chiefs traded up in the second round of the draft last weekend to snag SMU wideout Rashee Rice with the No. 55 overall pick.

General manager Brett Veach said Monday he expects Rice to add an element the club lost when JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with New England this offseason.

“(I’m) certainly excited to add Rashee to the mix here,” he said via the team’s official transcript. “He was a guy that the contested catch and the run after the catch was something that really stood out. We did lose JuJu and I think it makes sense to find a guy that can do a lot of things that he can do on the inside game and he’s almost like a running back after the catch.”

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Rice profiled as a JuJu-type player at SMU. The rookie lacks overwhelming speed but owns excellent body control and is a winner at the catch-point. Rice’s film showed a player who could break off a deep-sell and do work on slants and crossers. The wideout is also a good ball tracker and can make plays after the catch.

The Chiefs added that type of playmaker, who brings good production from the college level to a wideout corps that includes Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, newly-signed Richie James and wild card Justyn Ross.

K.C. is expecting a leap in production from Toney (if he can stay healthy) and Moore in 2023, and adding Rice to the equation gives coach Andy Reid some versatility.

“Well I think all three of those guys are extremely talented (and) versatile,” Veach said when asked about Rice, Toney and Moore. “These are guys you can do some different things with.

“…Skyy has done a tremendous job of getting better and improving. We saw that throughout the course of last year and (he) went through a lot of adversity but the kid — his mental resiliency is awesome. Look forward for him to take the next step. You know, everyone knows about Kadarius and how talented he is. Kadarius can do anything on the field. He can line up inside, outside, running back, quarterback. He can do it all, he was a quarterback back in his day. Again, we just like to put talent out on the field and Coach (Andy Reid) will find ways to put these guys in different positions and different formations and different sets. You know you throw that group in there with a bunch of talent we have at tight end, let the coaches do their thing but you know all three of those guys we’re really excited about.”

The Chiefs’ offense didn’t lose a beat after losing Tyreek Hill in 2022. We don’t expect Patrick Mahomes to slow down despite seeing lead-receiver Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman exit in 2023. But it will be interesting to see who steps up to the plate — and who Mahomes trusts outside of Travis Kelce — with the game on the line.

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