Next up in our 2020 profiles on the team’s 19 undrafted free agents, we have former Fresno State tight end Jared Rice.
Central Catholic alum Jared Rice signs with the Los Angeles Chargers https://t.co/8MJpt8zsjF— Julian Lopez (@juliansdayoff22) April 26, 2020
Rice is a Modesto, California-native who starred while prepping at Central Catholic High School. During his time at Central, Rice helped lead his team to three state championships in his four years and earning First-Team All-State accolades as a senior.
He redshirted his first year at Fresno State but managed to contribute a pair of touchdowns in his initial year of action in 2016. He appeared in 10 of 12 games and caught just four passes. In six starts as a sophomore, he hauled in 22 passes for 388 yards and another pair of scores.
His breakout season for the Bulldogs came as a junior when he set career-highs across the board with 55 catches for 664 yards and three touchdowns. The receptions and yards were both second on the team. He was named to the All-Mountain West Second Team and as he was fourth among FBS tight ends in receptions and yards that season. He regressed a bit as a senior but set a career-best in touchdowns with four while adding 32 catches for 307 yards. His four scores were also tied for the team lead in 2019.
Rice wound-up finishing his time at Fresno State as the program’s leader for tight ends in career receptions (113) and receiving yards (1,365).
At 6’5 and 235 pounds, Rice has adequate size for the position but his body composition resembles that of a big wide receiver over a well-rounded tight end. He’s narrow through his upper body which worries me about his blocking capabilities in the NFL but he runs with impressive power and body control after the catch.
Rice made most of his money on designed pop-passes and screens that gave him a chance to make a guy miss and gain some YAC. On a number of occasions in his film, Rice will make a catch a yard from the sideline and somehow contort his body to not only stay in, but make someone miss on the attempt to push him out and then get upfield.
His hands look strong and he can hold onto the rock through contact, which is what you want in a reliable safety valve at tight end. As far as what I’ve been able to watch of Rice, he may actually have a shot at sticking as the team’s third tight end should Donald Parham underwhelm. Rice reminds me of Andrew Vollert who impressed coaches last year prior to him tearing his ACL during an exhibition game on his first and only catch of the preseason.
It’s not a position of need by any means, but you never know when this team will take a liking to any one of these UDFAs. Rice at least offers some translatable traits that should do him well in the NFL.