Sidney Rice At Pick 30 Is Not A Reach

Assuming the Chargers stay put at pick number 30 in 2007 NFL Draft, what position would have the best available players?

Defensive End is a deep position, with about five players that could be taken in round one. Safeties are also pretty deep, with four first round prospects. Up to five Linebackers have a chance to sneak into the first round as well. The Cornerback position could be a wildcard however; there are about five corners who carry first round grades, and the Chargers will need to eventually get another good corner on the roster. But clearly the position that would have the most talented players available in the first round would be Wide Receiver, with as many as six prospects with first round grades.

Ranking those five positions in terms of need, Wide Receiver and Safety would clearly be atop the Chargers 'needs list'. While depth at Defensive End and both Linebacker spots is certainly desirable, the need isn't great enough to justify passing on an available Wideout or Safety. As said, the Cornerback position has a chance to be addressed in the first round, and it wouldn't shock me to see AJ Smith pull the trigger on a talented corner who slipped to pick 30.

Now, with so much talent available, and each team's needs varying from one club to the next, there will undoubtedly a talented player who slips.

On the Wide Receiver front, there is such a disparity between Calvin Johnson and all the other first round Wideouts in terms of overall package. Somebody will fall and the Chargers will pounce.

Same can be said for Safeties; Landry and Nelson are clear cut first rounders, but Micheal Griffin or Brandon Meriwether could be available at 30. The Chargers could address the need at Safety with this pick.

Making a case for Sidney Rice

In recent weeks, Sidney Rice's stock has slipped. He canceled his 40 yard sprint during his Pro Day when it seemed he wasn't going to be at his best. While his agent told the scouts that the field conditions were bad, the NFL scouts were pretty pissed off nonetheless. Using his times from the Combine 40 yard dash he was clocked in the 4.5 range. This isn't slow by any means, but it clearly didn't help elevate his stock.

Mock Drafts are now slotting Rice as a high second round choice - a player who won't get past the Vikings or the 49ers.

Would taking a player at pick 30 who others feel will fall to the top of the second round be considered a reach? Of course not.

See, Sidney Rice is a very young player who wont turn 21 until a few days before Week 1 of the 2007 NFL Regular Season.

Rice is admittedly still raw, having only played for two seasons at South Carolina. But in those two seasons he lit it up in Steve Spurrier's offense:

70+ catches, 1000+ yards, and 10+ touchdowns in back to back seasons.

Another season like those and we are talking about a top 10 pick in the 2008 draft. Keep in mind he played in the SEC, widely considered the top conference in the nation. Sidney Rice faced some serious competition and some extremely good defenses the past two years and still managed some monster numbers.

At 6'4" and 200lbs, he has a 39.5" vertical jump and a 9'11" broad jump. Those are extremely good leaping and explosion indicators. His 1.47 10 yard dash is extremely fast and show he can get out of the blocks quickly.

Some may question Rice's lack of bulk. This is a minor issue in my mind. There is no question he will add mass in the NFL, and his frame is no where near maxed out. Looking at Dwayne Bowe, he clearly doesn't have room to get much bigger. Rice, on the other hand, has heaps of talent and has the room to get bigger, stronger, and faster.

There are scouts who consider Rice the most sure-handed pass catcher in the entire draft, even ahead of the highly touted Calvin Johnson. As said before, Rice could have been a top 10 pick if he waited one more season before declaring.

The Chargers should take Rice if he was available at pick 30. The love players from the SEC, and that is a conference in which Rice was as dominant as any offensive player.

Rice can make the acrobatic catch like few in this draft can. He can snatch the ball out of the air away from about any cornerback in the NFL. He is both a deep threat as well as a red zone terror. Yes he will take a year or two before he really breaks out, but with Gates and Jackson likely catching most of the available balls, he will have time to develop into the star he is capable of being.

Philip Rivers needs reliable, young targets in which he can grow with. Sidney Rice and Philip Rivers have the potential to play in many Pro Bowls together and would make for an excellent addition to a starved receiving corp.

Don't believe me? Go watch these highlight videos and get back to me.

April 18, 2007

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