KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs’ Day 2 NFL Draft picks had ties to players on the franchise before they were even selected.
And their journeys of getting to Kansas City are similar as well.
In the second round of the draft, the Chiefs traded up with the Detroit Lions to select SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice. In the third round, Kansas City traded up with the Cincinnati Bengals to select Oklahoma offensive tackle Wanya Morris.
Rice trained with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Texas prior to the draft.
“He actually called me while Coach (Andy Reid) was on the phone and I just put it on hold real quick,” Rice said. “I talked to him, told him I’ll call him back whenever I can so when I get off of here I’m gonna call him back. I’m really excited about that.”
Rice was a college teammate of Chiefs third-string quarterback Shane Buechele and trained with him as well during the offseason.
Both of them made sure to put in calls to Rice on draft night.
“That’s my guy. I know we gonna have a great connection. I mean, I mean, we just ready to make some plays like we did in college at SMU.”
Does he think Mahomes handpicked him?
“100%. And if he did, I appreciate him all the way.”
“It’s Patrick Mahomes and everyone is gonna wanna go out and work with him,” assistant general manager Mike Borgonzi said. “Thing about Pat, he’ll go out on the playground and throw the ball around to anyone. There’s a bunch of players down there, of course we’re gonna take Pat’s input.”
Morris started his college career at Tennessee and was a teammate of Chiefs guard Trey Smith before he transferred to Oklahoma. When Smith was mentioned, Morris got emotional about being reunited with his old linemate.
“He was one of the first people who called me when I got the pick,” Morris said.
“I can’t tell you how good it feels to just get those acknowledgments from the guys that you see doing great in the league. And, just to know that I’m gonna be right there back with him, we gonna, we gonna start off where we left off. So it’s exciting. It’s exciting. I’m really excited.”
Smith also gave him some advice before he gets to Kansas City.
“Don’t go in there with any expectations. Go in there and just do your job and work. Just work your ass. And that’s what I’m gonna do, Chiefs Nation. I’m ready.”
Rice is a 6-foot-1, 204-pound receiver who ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine along with a 41-inch vertical jump.
The 23-year-old garnered 233 catches, 3,111 yards and 25 touchdowns in his four-year career at SMU. Rice also set the school single-season receiving record and led the FBS in yards per game.
The North Richland Hills, Texas native garnered 96 receptions and 1,355 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior season.
He compares himself to Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins who the Chiefs have been rumored to have been seeking throughout the offseason.
Now they get their own version fresh from the draft.
“Explosive, fast twitch, kid. Really good with the ball after the catch. He’s like a running back after the catch,” Borgonzi said.
“He can play inside, he can play outside. So you know coaches will find a way to get him involved in the offense but feel really good about him.”
Morris was a five-star recruit and made the SEC All-Freshman Team as a 12-game starter at left tackle for Tennessee in 2019.
He transferred to Oklahoma in 2021 and was a Second Team All-Big 12 member as a right tackle in 2022.
Morris is named after Boyz II Men member Wanya Morris, but there’s no relation. The 22-year-old’s favorite Boyz II Men song is Motownphilly.
“My mom and my aunt [were] just going back and forth with the name. It was between Faizon and Wanya, and my auntie was like ‘Wanya,’ cause you know his last name is Morris and I think that’d be pretty cool the name Wanya.'”
Borgonzi calls him explosive and long and ready to compete.
With free agent signee Jawaan Taylor looking to man the left tackle position, Morris may be competing for the right tackle position that is open thanks to Andrew Wylie’s signing with the Washington Commanders.
Lucas Niang, Prince Tega Wanogho and second-year player Darian Kinnard have been mentioned to be in the mix for the right tackle job as well.
Borgonzi also mentioned on Friday night that nothing is set in stone and the coaches will sort it out.
The point of draft night is to soak up the excitement of potential in the air and dreams realized for young players entering the NFL.
“I’m excited to get to work with my guys. You know, I just got drafted so I’m still taking in this moment,” Morris said.
“It’s hard to think about what I’m gonna do, what, what things is gonna happen, you know? I’m still stuck in the moment right now. I’m still in shock, I’m still in awe at the moment.”
“Y’all getting a playmaker. I can’t wait to be a part of the Chiefs program,” Rice said.
“Chiefs Kingdom man, we gonna go win another Super Bowl. There’s no doubt about it.”