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

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

“My dad was hot,” Brenden, 22, 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.'”

It was a particularly emotional day for Brenden, who attended his best friend’s funeral on the day he was drafted. He said he received the call from the Chargers while he was in the Dallas airport heading back home to L.A.

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

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

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

“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.

“Everything’s upon me, so if you guys don’t see me coming fall, that’s on me. 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.”

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

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

“I feel as though we’re neck and neck. I’m faster, and I heard his rookie season in the NFL 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 gotta go top him.”


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