After some wild shakeups in the first half of the 2023 NFL Draft’s opening round, the second half also featured quite a few surprise developments. One of them was four wide receivers in a row flying off the board, which was particularly of note for a team like the Kansas City Chiefs. The mid-20s also saw some movement, and even more was allegedly in talks to take place.
Per Dallas Cowboys staff writer Patrik Walker, the Chiefs called the Cowboys and inquired about trading for pick No. 26. Once Dallas found out that Kansas City was interested in Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith, however, those talks evaporated and Smith became a Cowboy:
There was quite a bit of buzz surrounding Smith as a legitimate round-one candidate for the Chiefs, as the run-stuffing interior defensive lineman could’ve served as a complement to Chris Jones and was mocked to Kansas City quite often in the days and weeks leading up to the draft. Nevertheless, he’s a good fit in Dallas and went right around where his projected draft range was set (late on Day 1).
Why they picked him: Despite drafting George Karlaftis in the first round last year and signing Charles Omenihu in free agency this year, the Chiefs needed help on the edge. Anudike-Uzomah had 19.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. They plan to move Omenihu inside to pair with Chris Jones as an interior rusher on passing downs, so a spot is open for Anudike-Uzomah to claim a spot opposite Karlaftis on the edge on passing downs.
Biggest question: What about wide receiver? The Chiefs watched as four straight wide receivers were picked a few spots ahead of them. Could they have traded up to get one of them? — Adam Teicher
Pick 31: Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas State · Edge
After losing Frank Clark in free agency, the Chiefs bring in a complementary pass rusher to play opposite George Karlaftis. Anudike-Uzomah is an ultra-productive, high-energy player with speed and average size who gets to the quarterback with a variety of moves.
The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is in the books, so naturally it’s time to look ahead to what could transpire on Day 2 with the second and third rounds.
Where in the heck do Will Levis and Hendon Hooker land? Let’s get to the picks!
Marvin Mims: WR — OKLAHOMA — JR — 5’11” / 183 LBS
PROJECTED TEAM: Kansas City
PROSPECT RNK: 76th
POSITION RNK: 10th
Mims is a blast to watch on the outside getting vertical. Threatening pairing with Patrick Mahomes.
The intrigue started early on the first day of the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City.
— GLYDE (@Clydro_22) April 27, 2023
Chiefs fans were puzzled by the tweet. Could this be something that is unrelated to his job as a professional football player? Or are the Chiefs not picking up his fifth-year option? Some wondered if Edwards-Helaire was told he’d be traded.
A few think/hope that meant Edwards-Helaire was part of a deal for Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah: The positives
Over the past two seasons, Anudike-Uzomah established himself as a relentless pass rusher with a high motor. In 2022, he was the No. 1 target in opposing teams’ scouting reports and still put up respectable numbers while facing almost constant double-teams.
He also was physical enough to hold his own against the run in K-State’s three-man front, and when he reached the quarterback or ball-carrier he excelled at knocking the ball loose as evidenced by his eight forced fumbles over the past two seasons
A relative lack of experience with just 27 career starts means Anudike-Uzomah may face a steeper learning curve against more savvy offensive lines. Another knock against him is an occasional lack of discipline in his single-minded pursuit of the quarterback.
The Chiefs got their guy in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft with their selection of former Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah with the 31st overall pick Thursday night.
Or to be specific, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and defensive line coach Joe Cullen landed their top choice in the Lee’s Summit native.
“Spags and our defensive staff did a great job of sorting all these guys out,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said late Thursday night. “Joe Cullen is relentless; he evaluates everybody. You just give him somebody that says defensive line on them, he’s going to evaluate them.
“He loved him, Spags loved him, and it was a pretty easy decision right there.”
Turns out, the respect and admiration went both ways as Anudike-Uzomah appreciated his pre-draft interactions with Cullen — and a message from Spagnuolo.
“His philosophy is very simple, and I love simple,” Anudike-Uzomah said of Spagnuolo in a post-draft Zoom call. “He said literally if you can just attack the ball and use your ability, and there’s obviously certain stunts like that, and if you can attack the ball like he wants you.
“He liked that I have a great motor because he likes high-motor guys, and he likes everything about my playing style.”
For one, the two-time NFL MVP felt like he should support a fellow Red Raider after playing his own college ball with the Big 12 program. On the other hand, the Las Vegas Raiders are known as being the biggest rivals for the Chiefs in the AFC West.
Mahomes, who was present at the Kansas City draft event, perfectly expressed his conflicting reaction to the Raiders drafting Wilson with a tweet shortly after the pick came through.
Take it easy on me big dawg!! @tyreewilson77 congrats tho!!— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) April 28, 2023
Mahomes and Wilson never ended up being teammates at Texas Tech as the new NFL rookie played in Lubbock from 2020 to ’22. Meanwhile, the Chiefs quarterback was busy winning his first Super Bowl title in 2020, and then his second just this past February.
Now, the two former Red Raiders will be rivals on the field in the upcoming season.
Pacheco was selected in the seventh round but immediately became an impact player for the Chiefs. He turned heads around the league and used his late draft selection as fuel from that day on.
“Yes, sir. I use that as fuel. Going in the seventh round, (I’ll) always have a chip on my shoulder. Why? So late or why? You know, the position I was in, but I didn’t question it,” said Pacheco. “You know, I just kept my head down, and I blocked out the negative energy and stuck to the script and stayed on task, and that was finding the edge to compete against the older guys and picking their brain, so they could teach me the business side of the program.”
The Chiefs found a diamond in the rough in Pacheco, who continues to improve with every game. A year ago, the team found a way to get better with a player that is constantly focused on improvement.
Around the NFL
After two years of misses, tags and even a trade request, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have finally sealed the deal. The two sides have agreed in principle on a five-year extension, the team announced on Thursday.
Jackson’s deal is worth $260 million over five years with $185 million guaranteed, according to CBS Sports NFL insider Josina Anderson. This makes Jackson the league’s highest-paid player with an average annual salary of $52 million. It puts Jackson just ahead of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who recently became the league’s highest-paid player after signing a five-year, $255 million extension. The guaranteed portion is second-best to Deshaun Watson’s $230 million in his deal with the Browns.
The news comes a month after Jackson had requested a trade after the two sides once again could not come to terms on a new contract. The Ravens had previously placed the non-exclusive rights tag on Jackson, a former league MVP and two-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
“For the last few months, there’s been a lot of he said, she said. A lot of nail biting, a lot of head scratching going on,” Jackson said in a video celebrating the news. “But for the next five years, it’s a lot of Flock going on. Let’s go, baby. Let’s go. Let’s go, man. Can’t wait to get there, can’t wait to be there. Can’t wait to light up M&T for the next five years, man. Let’s get it.”
After getting their franchise quarterback in C.J. Stroud, the Houston Texans sent shock waves through the NFL draft Thursday night, trading up nine spots to select Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. with the No. 3 overall pick.
The Arizona Cardinals, who originally owned the third pick, received the 12th overall pick, the 33rd overall pick, a first-round pick in 2024 and a third-rounder in 2024 from the Texans, who also receive a 2023 fourth-rounder in the deal.
Despite the hefty price tag for the third pick, the Texans have landed two of this year’s top overall draft prospects for first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans, who said throughout the offseason that Houston was looking to add a young quarterback and now also has a building block for his defense.
“I know that it’s meant to be,” said Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick. “I know that with this franchise, it’s going be something that I’m really going to take very, very seriously and I’m going to work my tail off to get some wins.”
Stroud joins a franchise that has failed to find a reliable quarterback in the two seasons since Watson requested to be traded. Davis Mills has started most of the last two seasons, going 5-22-1 in 28 games with 26 starts as the Texans were among the NFL’s worst teams.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Ron: I love this pick. We have been pumping up the idea of the local prospect being selected by the Chiefs because he’s a great stylistic fit, a high-ceiling prospect and strengthens a position that needed further strengthening.
He has the size and length of a traditional 4-3 defensive end, using sound leverage to set the edge firmly against the run, but he can also fly by an offensive tackle with an effective pass-rush move and body flexibility.
What I love the most about this pick: How high of a ceiling Anudike-Uzomah has, even though he’s already a very sound, solid player. When you look at his physique, you see a body that can still add good weight and get stronger. I believe he can be an immediate contributor, but I also believe the sky is the limit for him.
A tweet to make you think
What a night for Kansas City.— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) April 28, 2023