Jerry Rice ‘hot’ over son falling to Chargers in Round 7 of NFL draft

COSTA MESA, Calif. – Hall of Famer Jerry Rice wasn’t happy after the 2024 NFL Draft.

Rice’s son, Brenden Rice, a wide receiver at USC, was projected to be a mid-round pick in many mock drafts, and according to Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh, Los Angeles had a grade of third to fourth round on him.

But Brenden wasn’t chosen until the seventh round, the 32nd receiver taken out of the 35 drafted. He said his proposed position disappointed him and infuriated his father.

“My dad was hot,” Brenden, 22, said with a smile. “You guys get the flash like… a humble guy, right? Me, he’s like, ‘Hell no, we’re going to take this to a different level. These guys are going to feel us.’ “

It was a particularly emotional day for Brenden, who attended his best friend’s funeral the day he was drafted. He said he received the call from the Chargers while he was at an airport in Dallas and on his way home to Los Angeles.

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

The frustration of falling in the seventh round was short-lived, Brenden said, because of the team that chose him. The Chargers traded their top two receivers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, during the offseason, leaving them with just one receiver who had a 1,000-yard season – DJ Chark Jr., who did so in 2019 .

That, along with having quarterback Justin Herbert, makes it a favorable spot for a rookie receiver, perhaps more so than many other teams. Brenden said he was well aware of that.

“I’m in the best possible position to move forward and make my mark and leave 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.

“It’s all on me, so if you don’t see me go down, it’s my fault. And if you see me out there, then I’m doing the work necessary to get the best foot in the door and go out there and produce .”

At 6-foot-3, 208 pounds, Brenden gives the Chargers a physical target in depth. He led USC with 14.6 air yards per target in 2023, and seven of his 12 touchdown receptions came on vertical routes, tied for sixth in the FBS. His strengths still differ significantly from those of his father, who, as Brenden noted, was more of a smooth route runner than the physical receiver that he is.

As for who was the better player at this point in their careers, Brenden said it’s still up for debate.

“I feel like we’re neck and neck. I’m faster and I heard his NFL rookie season wasn’t good,” Brenden said of his father, who had 49 receptions for 927 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games as a rookie. “I have to get past him.”

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