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Brenden Rice is ready to compete and show he shouldn’t have fallen in NFL Draft

The Sporting Tribune's Fernando Ramirez on Brenden Rice saying he is ready to prove the doubters wrong.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Brenden Rice expected to get a phone call late Friday night or early Saturday morning—he didn’t.

NFL.com projected him to be a fourth-round draft pick—he wasn’t.

Rice fell right into Jim Harbaugh’s lap at pick number 225 in the 7th round. He spoke at his Pro Day about wanting to play with the Chargers head coach. 

That Saturday was a long day for Rice, as he attended and was a pallbearer at the funeral service of Keith Miller III, one of his best friends and former Colorado teammate.

“It was just like a blessing from God because he allowed me to go ahead and just mourn the death of my friend,” Rice said, “and then after that just go ahead and be happy, and it was a glorious day.”

Rice said one particular member of his family, his father, Hall of Fame receiver Jerry, wasn’t happy with him being drafted in the 7th round.

“My dad was hot,” Rice said with a smile. “You guys get the flash like … the humble dude, right? Me, he’s like, ‘Hell no, we’re going to take this to a different level. These guys going to feel us.'”

Rice wasn’t happy about it either, but when the phone call came in, GM Joe Hortiz asked him how he was doing.

“Struggling,” Rice answered.

Hortiz and Harbaugh hoped that drafting Rice would lift his spirits, which it did. Rice wanted to go to the Chargers.

“People want to sit here like, ‘Are you sad? Are you mad?'” Rice said.

“Guys, I’m in the best position possible to go ahead and make my mark on and make my own legacy,” he said. “I went from Caleb Williams to Justin Herbert, and I’m in a room that’s going to allow me to compete day in and day out.”

At 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds, Rice is a big-bodied receiver who improved both of his years at USC. He went from 611 yards his junior year to 791 his senior year, but the major jump was in touchdowns, as he went from four to 12 his final year.

He will help provide another target for Herbert, who brings a different skill set. The Chargers have around eight to nine receivers competing for five or six spots, depending on what Harbaugh wants to do.

Rice knows he needs to be consistent and bring it.

“Everything’s upon me, so if you guys don’t see me coming fall, that’s on me,” Rice said. “And if you guys see me out there, then I put in the necessary work to put my best foot in the door and go out there and produce.”

After as far as expectations, Rice is looking toward making the team obviously, but then trying to surpass a player who once had 49 receptions for 927 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games as a rookie—his father.

“I feel as though we’re neck and neck,” Rice said. “I’m faster, and I heard his rookie season in the NFL wasn’t good. I gotta go top him.”

The rookie receiver seems motivated by his draft position, to make the team, and by the team who drafted him.

He is looking for redemption and this might be the perfect team to do it with.

“It is going to be one hell of a story and I can’t wait to do it with you and Justin Herbert,” Rice told Harbaugh on his draft call.