Minnesota's Very Own "Sid The Kid": Underrated, Under—Appreciated

Wade ImpolaContributor IJune 12, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 17:  Sidney Rice #18 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on against the New York Jets during their preseason game on August 17, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets won 31-16. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

With all the attention the Minnesota Vikings football team is getting these days some people tend to forget about the team as a whole. Sure there's Adrian Peterson, of course. And then there's Bernard Berrian, Jared Allen, The "Williams Wall", and that Brett Favre guy. However, I refuse to believe that's as far as the Minnesota Vikings go as far as personnel is concerned.

One of the more underrated players on the Vikings' roster is a WR out of South Carolina who is known by all as Sidney Rice.

Sidney Rice spent his freshman and sophomore years playing football for the University of South Carolina before declaring for the 2007 NFL draft. At USC he was known as a vertical threat with tremendous catching and leaping ability. Listed at 6 foot 4 inches he has the ability to grab the ball at it's highest point. He set a school record for touchdown receptions with 23 before leaving which was previously at 19 held by Robert Brooks and Jermale Kelly. He left college ranked sixth all time with career receptions. He did all this and much more in just two collegiate seasons.

After his sophomore season Sidney Rice declared for the NFL draft and was selected 44th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round. The only person drafted by the Vikings before him was Adrian Peterson. Vikings personnel considered Sidney Rice a steal at that spot which they couldn't pass up.

The 2007 season for the Minnesota Vikings started with plenty of question marks. The biggest question mark was perhaps attached right on the passing game and Rice was expected to help erase that mark. Although he did not see huge numbers his rookie season, Sidney Rice did finish first in the NFC and second in the NFL with touchdown receptions among NFL rookies beating out Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. He caught his first NFL touchdown against the hated rival Green Bay Packers in week 4 when Kelly Holcomb threw a 15 yard jump ball to Rice and he made a spectacular turnaround catch over Jarrett Bush for the score (You can see the highlight on nfl.com). He started and finished third on the depth chart and finished the regular season with 31 receptions (four of them touchdowns) and 396 yards receiving.

The 2008 season had high expectations for not just the Minnesota Vikings as a team but for Sidney Rice as an individual player as well. He was moved up on the depth chart and was activated as starter beside newly acquired Bernard Berrian. He got off to an expected start when he caught a 23 yard touchdown pass in the first game of the season on Monday Night Football but was sidelined until week 9 with an ankle injury. That's where things went down hill for Rice. He finished the season with 15 receptions for 141 yards, however, 4 of his 15 receptions went for touchdowns. He publicly said the injury ruined his season and is eager to get the 2009 started.

With the NFL draft the Vikings chose to pickup Percy Harvin, a WR out of Florida and spirits are high here in the land of 10,000 lakes because of this. But many fans forget the name Sidney Rice and I hope I have mentioned his name enough in this article for those fans to remember. Berrian and Harvin may just be the bigger name receivers on the Vikings roster but the true red zone threat is Rice. He will catch balls with his athletic ability that Berrian and Harvin can only dream about. But with these receivers lined up with the skill sets they have, they will surely give defenses problems they don't want and Sidney Rice will hopefully bring tears to defenses this season instead of fans.