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By the Numbers: Titans third-round pick LB Monty Rice

Profiling the most surprising pick the Titans made in the 2021 NFL Draft...

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Tennessee vs Georgia Photo by /Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Happy Monday! We are continuing our “By the Numbers” series today on the Tennessee Titans 2021 draft class. We looked at Caleb Farley and Dillon Radunz last week. Today, we’re kicking the week off by looking at the first of the team’s two third round picks, Georgia linebacker Monty Rice.

This was a shocking pick. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad one. But with Jayon Brown, Rashaan Evans and David Long Jr. currently on the roster, I don’t think anybody saw the Titans going with a linebacker this early. The team is deep at the position, and had bigger holes to address when they made this pick.

Some fans have expressed their frustration. I understand where you’re coming from. But it’s not impossible to see a route where this pick works out. Brown and Evans are entering contract years in 2021. I don’t expect them to be back in 2022. If Rice can show some positive signs as a rookie, either in limited play time or even in practice, he’s starting alongside Long in 2022. If that’s the case, we may look back at this pick much more fondly than some of you are doing right now. Time will tell.

Rice is a smart football player. At Georgia, he routinely showcased his ability to sniff out plays before they happened. He does a great job navigating through the trash en route to the football. He doesn’t get hung up on blocks for long. He does a good job keeping his frame clean. It’s important for him to do that, because he lacks great length. The measurables are less than desired here, but the football I.Q. and athletic ability are present. He reminds me a little of a slightly more athletic Evans. He’s not an overly rangy linebacker, but he can play in coverage a bit. It’ll be interesting to see if Rice can get on the field as a rookie. It’s tough to picture him playing much on defense this year unless an injury or trade (Evans?) happens.

Let’s take a deeper look into how PFF graded Rice throughout the 2020 season.

Games played: 9

Total defensive snaps played: 302

Snaps as a pass rusher: 30

Run defense snaps: 119

Coverage snaps: 153

Tackles: 39

Assists: 11

Missed tackles: 3

Overall grade: 77.9

These numbers are pretty encouraging. Rice’s final grade of 77.9 was the highest mark of his three-year career in Athens. What are your thoughts on this pick? Have you changed your mind? Leave your opinion in the comments.