The linebacker position has been a popular mock for the Las Vegas Raiders during the 2021 NFL Draft cycle.
It’s been a common prediction for their first-round pick, but there are plenty of options that could be found in the later rounds as well.
That includes Georgia linebacker Monty Rice.
Used as a rotational player starting in his true freshman season, Rice became a full-time starter entering the 2019 campaign.
He was 10th in the SEC that season with 89 total tackles and was the established thumper of Georgia’s defense.
Rice didn’t get as much playing time last season, but still flashed when he got the opportunity and ended up receiving his best rating from Pro Football Focus, ranking 55th in the nation among linebackers.
When Rice has been on the field, he’s been able to show the sideline-to-sideline speed that’s been enough to keep up with Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.
You won’t find many better tacklers, either, as Rice finished his college career with a missed tackle rate under 10 percent.
Rice is able to generate great leverage with how he’s built at 6-1 and 235 pounds, and he does well in navigating his way through traffic in the running game to stay on his assignment.
All of those qualities have not yet translated to his ability in coverage, however.
Rice didn’t record an interception in his career, only has five career pass breakups, and allowed 22 receptions on 23 targets last season.
While his build contributes to him doing well in gaining leverage, Rice's length isn’t considered to be ideal for the position.
Scouts also view him as not having great awareness for how plays are developing around him on defense, preventing him from being able to stop them more often.
Rice is a player who is still learning how to get the game to slow down for him, but his natural speed and tackling prowess are strong tools to start with.
If he can learn how to take advantage of that speed in coverage, he has the potential to be an every-down player.
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