clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Projecting rookie roles for the Chiefs’ 2023 draft class

What might we expect from Kansas City’s drafted rookies this season?

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Kansas City Chiefs used their 10 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft to select seven players, let’s project what their roles will be this season.

Round 1, pick 31: defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah

Anudike-Uzomah is the player most likely to be an immediate contributor. As a rookie, his role will be likely to mirror defensive end Carlos Dunlap’s 2022 role: a backup defensive end who could rotate in at any time — but who played a large majority of his snaps on third down. His pass-rushing plan is good enough to immediately make him a positive pass rusher.

Anudike-Uzomah will need to build up some bulk so he can develop more playing strength — but like Dunlap, we should expect him to be on the field in any pass-rushing situation. While he might not have Dunlap’s length, Anudike-Uzomah can press the arc and win with speed — something the Chiefs haven’t really seen since Dee Ford was on the team.

Round 2, pick 55: wide receiver Rashee Rice

While Rice’s precise role is difficult to project, we know that in head coach Andy Reid’s offense, his snaps are likely to be limited; as rookies, second-round picks Skyy Moore and Mecole Hardman didn’t have substantial roles. The Chiefs probably won’t ask Rice to absorb the entire playbook; it’s likely that Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Moore will get the majority of the snaps.

Rice’s main route to the field will probably be as Valdes-Scantling’s backup — similar to how the Chiefs used Justin Watson last year. With his size and athleticism, I’m confident that Rice can get some of the 494 snaps Watson played last year. If Rice can get a significant portion of those snaps, it will be a big win for him.

At times, we should expect Rice will be playing in the slot — where he can use his size and contested-catch ability against slot defenders in a change-up look for the Chiefs. We might also see Kansas City immediately build a red-zone package for him.

Round 3, pick 92: tackle Wanya Morris

Morris’ selection suggests Kansas City is now committed to new free-agent Jawaan Taylor at left tackle. On the right, we should expect an open competition between Morris, Lucas Niang, Prince Tega Wanogho and Darian Kinnard. As offseason activities begin, it’s likely that Niang will be the starter — but ultimately, Morris will probably win the job. He has all the athleticism and length that is needed. He just needs to clean up his punch and hand placement. If Morris can clean up those things, he’ll be an average right tackle in his rookie year — which would be a huge win for the Chiefs.

Round 4, pick 119: defensive back Chamarri Conner

Conner’s immediate role will be as a four-phase special-teams player — which means he will make the Week 1 active roster and be in each week’s game-day roster. Otherwise — with slot cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and safety Mike Edwards on the roster — Conner’s path to the field is murky; it probably won’t happen unless there is an injury. But with a year of experience under his belt — and if Sneed or Edwards aren’t re-signed — Conner could be a slot option in 2024.

Round 5, pick 166: defensive end BJ Thompson

Thompson was probably acquired to replace either Joshua Kaindoh or Malik Herring as developmental defensive ends. Thompson will need time in the weight room to develop adequate playing strength to face NFL offensive linemen, but his explosiveness and flexibility are athletic traits worth betting on. Resetting the team’s developmental clock for defensive ends makes sense — but we shouldn't expect much from Thompson as a rookie.

Round 6, pick 194: defensive tackle Keondre Coburn

Coburn’s role is the easiest of these to project: he will immediately be the backup to nose tackle Derrick Nnadi, who has now seen his snaps dwindle for four consecutive years. Getting someone else who could play those snaps was important. We’ll likely see Coburn rotate in for 10-15 snaps a game. This would be another win for Kansas City.

Round 7, pick 250: cornerback Nic Jones, Ball State

Jones — who is the kind of longer press cornerback that the Chiefs usually covet — should have a good chance to make the roster. If he can find a way to get on the field for special teams, there’s a chance he could push DiCaprio Bootle or Nazeeh Johnson off the roster.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Arrowhead Pride Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Kansas City Chiefs news from Arrowhead Pride