2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Monty Rice, Georgia

Monty Rice is another solid option on Day 3 if a team needs linebacker depth.
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LB MONTY RICE 

Height: 6'0"
Weight: 238 lbs.
Class: Senior
School: Georgia  


A former four-star recruit out of Madison, Alabama, who attended James Clemens High School. Rice was the 16th ranked Alabaman prospect in the 2017 recruiting cycle, according to 247 Sports.

According to the AP, Rice was one of five finalists for the Butkus Award and was named All-SEC First Team. He has 219 total tackles in four seasons. He also has 10.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, and five passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus, Georgia, much like the Giants, used their linebackers with blitzing, and Rice had 23 total pressures.

Notables

Missed time in 2018 with a sprained MCL in his left knee that he injured in pre-game warmups. Dealt with an injured foot as well in 2018; also missed some time in 2020 with a similar injury to his lower left leg, presumably the knee. 

He didn’t play in the Chick-Fil-a Bowl because of a nagging foot injury. He was held out of the Reese’s Senior Bowl practices with an undisclosed injury, but it could stem from his earlier foot issues (albeit he wasn’t in a walking boot).

Traits

He is a short, compact linebacker who possesses better range and speed than initially expected. He has solid overall athletic ability and does a good job generating speed in space due to foot speed and acceleration. 

Had a solid rep against Jaylen Waddle in the middle of the field seam, where he had to carry the burner vertically. It was a catch, but it was contested and looked much better than Ohio State’s Tuf Borland attempting to stick with DeVonta Smith.

He’s not a new-age, speed type of linebacker--he can get up to speed in space and do a good job driving downhill on underneath throws with a solid change of direction ability. Still, he doesn’t have sideline to sideline speed, and he’s not long, which hurts when attempting to close passing windows.

He moves well laterally—scrapes over the top of the line to put himself in position outside. I feel like he could do a better job keeping his chest clean on A and B-gap runs. His short arms allow offensive linemen to dictate plays, and it puts Rice into disadvantage situations where he has to react, and it’s not always easy.

He sees the field well in run defense and in coverage - has good football intelligence. He reads his keys and reacts with solid timing. He is a good tackler who brings power to the tackle point. 

Had 99 stops in his career, which is a PFF metric that measures “negative plays” for the offense. He wraps a lot of tackles low and does a solid job finishing the play with good competitive toughness.

He has enough athletic ability to cover, but as I alluded to earlier, the lack of length isn’t great. He reacts well to the route combinations around him and does a good job using burst to close to the catch point. He can play zone and has the athletic ability to play man coverage solidly, albeit he didn’t do it a ton at Georgia.

Overall, Rice is an undersized, short-armed linebacker who will be a team’s core special teamer early with the upside of starting. I wish he were a bit better in the box in keeping himself clean, but he’s not inept in this area. He’s a good tackler who plays with a lot of toughness. 

A good day three pick for a team looking for linebacker depth. He will ideally be a stacked inside linebacker in a two-gapping system, so the defensive line can help him stay clean. 


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