The Kansas City Chiefs finished second in the NFL in sacks last season (55.0). Much of that had to do with the hiring of defensive line coach Joe Cullen. Cullen will have his work cut out for him to get close to that number again this coming season.
Heading into the draft, the Chiefs have some holes along the defensive line to fill. Defensive tackle Kalen Saunders left for the New Orleans Saints in free agency. Edge rushers Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap remain free agents. That is 12.5 sacks that are no longer on the team.
The Chiefs did address the line by adding former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Charles Omenihu. Omenihu brings some versatility to the line and ended last season with 4.5 sacks. While this is a good addition, the Chiefs will still need to add some bodies to the room, and early in the draft is an excellent place to start.
A player Kansas City should take a long look at is Kansas State edge rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah. Standing 6’3” and weighing 255 lbs., Anudike-Uzomah is considered one of the better pure pass rushers in the entire draft.
Here is what we know about Anudike-Uzomah:
Uzomah is a local kid from Lee’s Summit High School. He was rated a three-star recruit coming out and went on to play at Kansas State. His freshman year as a Wildcat was pretty quiet, but he took his play to a higher level during his sophomore and junior season. As a sophomore, he recorded 50 tackles (36 solo). He also added 43 total pressures and 25 quarterback hurries, five quarterback hits and 11.0 sacks total during the year. As a junior, Anudike-Uzomah played in 14 games. He recorded 46 tackles (31 solo). As a pass rusher, he produced 43 total pressures, which included 27 quarterback hurries, eight quarterback hits and 8.0 sacks on the year.
Anudike-Uzomah can be a three-down lineman at the pro level. He has good length and displays good strength in his hands, which provides the ability to slip off blocks. As a run defender, he has the speed to chase down ballcarriers in pursuit.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah is a force against the run and pass. He has a nice motor and consistently beats double team blocks . If the #Chiefs can pair him with George Karlaftis you have a nice young tandem for some years. #NFLDraft2023 #NFLDraftNews #ArrowheadPride pic.twitter.com/lEpr7oc45r— Rece Veach (@ReceNickelz) March 31, 2023
Anudike-Uzomah can also win going speed-to-power, with the leg drive to push blockers back. He plays with a high motor and never gives up on a play. He has fluid footwork to redirect, reverse momentum and close with a burst. He is regularly first off the ball with good snap anticipation.
I would not be mad if at 31 the #Chiefs take Edge Rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah out of K-State. He is a GROWN MAN pass rusher. He plays with force and attitude . #NFLDraft2023 #NFLDraftNews #ArrowheadPride pic.twitter.com/pwlhv0Q9Pn— Rece Veach (@ReceNickelz) March 31, 2023
How he fits with the Chiefs
With the Chiefs not retaining Clark, they need another starting EDGE player opposite George Karlaftis. Drafting Anudike-Uzomah would give them a young tandem of high-motor players over the next few years. His ability to play all three downs gives them the very thing they lose with the Clark era behind them.
The bottom line
Anudike-Uzomah is projected to go anywhere from the late first to late second rounds. He should be there when the Chiefs pick at No. 31, but it’s doubtful he will make it back to them at pick No. 63 in the second round. The draft is deep at EDGE, which is good for the Chiefs. Anudike-Uzomah would instantly improve the line and could be a staple on the Chiefs’ defense for years to come.