In 2019, Georgia linebacker Monty Rice helped lead one of the most dominant defenses in Georgia Football history. The 12.5 points per game allowed in 2019 not only led the nation. but were the lowest at UGA since 1981.
He had 89 total tackles, with 50 of them being solo, and three for a loss. The former 4-star inside linebacker was the key to early-down success and would follow that up in 2020, a year where he faced an injury that heavily limited him during several games, with 49 total tackles, including a strip-sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in a win over Tennessee. Georgia limited teams to 73 yards per game rushing in 2020. Rice was also a finalist for the Butkus Award in 2020.
Taking away the team numbers, Rice was a crucial cog in head coach Kirby Smart's defense for two consecutive years, and he was dominant in both. While not the flashiest linebacker in the draft — that honor belongs to Penn State's Micah Parsons —Rice has what it takes to have a long sustainable career in the NFL.
He's a proven leader, and he has the skills to back it up. Smart runs one of the more complicated defensive schemes in college football. This makes the transition from the NCAA to the NFL a bit easier for linebackers coming through Georgia's system. Just take a look at how a former 2-star running back Tae Crowder cemented his place as a strong linebacker for the New York Giants.
Rice rarely misses tackles. He plays his gaps and unzips his feet well. He's powerful at the point of attack, has great speed (running a 4.57 40 at UGA's Pro Day and reads his keys well. These are all things that make him superb in run defense.
He also has great lateral quickness and is able to chase down runs outside the hash marks with relative ease, without allowing too much yardage in the process. That's all while carrying a 6-foot-1 and near 240-pound frame.
The only real question about Rice lies in his pass coverage. Rice didn't have to cover that much in college, especially in man. His 4.57 will benefit him greatly here. He has the speed to do it, and with a bit of coaching and in-game repetitions, he can become a great defensive weapon for whoever decides to take him.
NFL draft experts have Rice placed anywhere from the late second round all the way to the fourth round. Regardless of where he is picked, Rice has a bright future ahead of him at the next level.
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