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Jerry Rice 'hot' over son's draft slide, but Brenden Rice sees fall to Chargers as 'a blessing in disguise'

Brenden Rice began his on-field NFL journey this week as the Chargers opened rookie minicamp, but his arrival in Los Angeles was preceded with an unexpected fall in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Rice, the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, said Friday that his father wasn't too happy having to wait until the Round 7 to hear Brenden's name called.

"My dad was hot," Rice laughed to reporters, via the team's transcript. "The first words he said was, 'Time to go to work.' He said, 'I will be with you every step of the way.' He said, 'Now, I'm going to be involved within all of your workouts from now on, and we have a lot of people to prove wrong, a lot of teams that go ahead.' It's going to be one hell of a story, that's all that I'm going to say."

Head coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday that the Chargers had a third- or fourth-round grade on Rice, making it a "no-brainer" to select him with the No. 225 overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Rice's 45 receptions for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns were personal bests during his final season at USC. Despite what he called a "frustrating" draft process, Rice sees his fateful seventh-round slide as "a blessing in disguise" considering where he landed.

"I'm in the best position possible to go ahead and make my mark and make my own legacy," Rice 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. If you guys don't see me coming on this fall, that's on me. 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."

Rice indeed joins a Chargers team facing an uncertain wide receiver depth chart following the offseason exits of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. With superstar quarterback in Herbert at the helm, opportunity is aplenty for a young WR room that features Josh Palmer, DJ Chark, Quentin Johnston, Derius Davis and Simi Fehoko. Second-round rookie Ladd McConkey will also be in the mix for viable playing time in 2024.

Unlike most NFL players, Rice will have to deal with the sky-high comparisons being the son to arguably the greatest football player of all-time, especially as a wide receiver. As unfair as those views might be, the 22-year-old is taking it all in stride -- and one year at a time.

"Rookie season in the NFL, I feel as though we're neck-and-neck," Rice said when asked how he and his father stack up at this point. "I'm faster, and I heard that his rookie season in the NFL wasn't good. I have to go top."

Jerry Rice, a first-round pick by the 49ers in 1985, produced 49 receptions for 927 yards and three TDs during his rookie season, numbers that are certainly attainable for a first-year WR that sees ample playing time.

Brenden Rice says "without a doubt" he's confident he can compete for a spot in the Chargers' rotation as a rookie, which would certainly begin the invalidations of his draft fall this past April.

"My work ethic will separate myself," he said. "There are a lot of great guys in the room, we have a lot of different body types, different types of games. But, if I can go ahead and do the little things each day-in and day-out, go ahead and prove myself, go ahead and know my playbook like the back of my hand, and also be attentive and do the extra little things, I think that I will continue to separate myself within this room."

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