While teammates Chad Hamilton and Quinn Backus received the bulk of the local buzz heading into the NFL Draft last weekend based on the offensive lineman’s predraft buildup and the linebacker’s decorated collegiate career, Coastal Carolina cornerback Denzel Rice was also very much on teams’ radar.
As the seventh and final round of the draft was winding down Saturday, that became abundantly clear to the 6-foot, 185-pound corner from Winston-Salem, N.C.
Ultimately, he chose to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent and will head to the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend.
“They contacted me like midway through the seventh round, just calling my agent and stuff, discussing numbers and what they were going to offer me,” Rice said. “A lot of teams actually called me. I had to click over every 30 seconds for another team because the draft was coming down and they had to find the guys they need that slipped in the draft. It was a rush with a whole lot of teams just calling at once.
“The Eagles offered the most [money] and they seemed the most interested. I developed my relationship with them over about two months and that’s kind of what I based my decision on. I like [head coach] Chip Kelly. He’s all about his players.”
Rice finished his collegiate career with 24 pass break-ups and one interception with coaches pointing to the lack of picks or eye-popping numbers as a function of what’s asked from cornerbacks in the team’s defensive scheme.
A second-team All-Big South selection the last two seasons, Rice’s speed and physical tools drew the eye of NFL scouts and he’ll now get a chance to show he can play at that level.
“They drafted two corners in the sixth round and they said I could compete for a 53-man roster spot,” Rice said. “They liked me, they didn’t know how I slipped in the draft. They really wanted me, but it just didn’t go the way they planned so they offered me a signing bonus to come there and they just want to me compete. ...
“It’s definitely an honor. It’s up to me. I determine my own destiny and I feel like I’ve put in enough hard work I could potentially be a roster guy.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.