Over the last year, the Kansas City Chiefs have made three significant additions to their defensive end group. They drafted George Karlaftis in 2022’s first round — and then in March, signed former San Francisco 49ers hybrid end/tackle Charles Omenihu to a two-year deal. Then over the weekend, they used another first-round pick to acquire exciting Kansas State EDGE prospect Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
Those three now join Mike Danna — a solid lineman who can do a little of everything — and developmental players like Joshua Kaindoh, Malik Herring and fifth-round pick BJ Thompson.
Among all these players, Anudike-Uzomah has the highest ceiling. He is the player who is most capable of becoming a three-down staple who is a legitimate asset against both the run and the pass. While he isn’t quite there yet, he does have the tools to live up to that expectation.
Let’s look at his college film from both 2021 and 2022:
Pass rushing off the edge
With the Wildcats, Anudike-Uzomah lined up outside of the offensive tackle on only 72% of his snaps — meaning that he was not always in an alignment where he had an advantage to rush around the edge. He had to play plenty of snaps either head-up to (or inside) the offensive tackle, which restricted where he could go on passing plays.
When he had the wide-alignment advantage, he sought to win with speed around the edge, getting upfield to the tackle’s outside shoulder and trying to win with bend.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah has impressive body flexibility for being as well-built and long he is.— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 2, 2023
His long levers help him bend around the outside, but he does a great job of bringing his hips thru w/ his upper body to fully turn the corner pic.twitter.com/rlcm7cgc1I
While Anudike-Uzomah does get off the ball quickly, he isn’t exactly being shot out of a cannon, either. He times snaps well, but it’s really his flexibility and pad level that allow him to win around the edge. He has a smooth transition from swiping the blocker’s hands away to dipping under the blocker’s outside shoulder.
He also brings his hips with him through the bend. Some edge rushers will get their upper body past the blocker, but then fail to bring their whole body around. This gets them off-balance — and usually washes them out of the play. Anudike-Uzomah naturally brings his whole body through, which can lead to holding penalties when blockers are even half a step late.
FAU's threat around the edge naturally opens up space inside for counter moves off the speed rush.— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 2, 2023
His long arm into the swim move is effective because of how smoothly he transitions from outside to crashing inside pic.twitter.com/xaZPnTWEls
Anudike-Uzomah’s outside rush sets up his counter move inside: a long arm that turns into a swim back inside and towards the quarterback. He is enough threat around the edge to open up the inside space to make the move work — and he has great balance. He doesn’t shoot back inside out of control; instead, he stays on his feet while driving through blockers.
When FAU is tasked with selling out and penetrating a gap, he flies out w/ good pad level and good leg drive, and creates penetration— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 2, 2023
Whether it's against the run or on a stunt pass rushing, he has the get-off and strength to cause disruption pic.twitter.com/6F1IleUk40
That same leg drive comes through when he stunts inside. When asked, he is very effective at selling out through an interior gap to create penetration. He is comfortable going through a guard or center. If necessary, he can use gathered momentum to drive them into the quarterback.
Holding up against the run
At Kansas State, Anudike-Uzomah did much more than just rush off the edge. Even though he wasn’t the ideal size for someone playing inside or over the tackle, he held up in the trenches.
At K-State, FAU had to hold up in the trenches because he played nearly 30% of his snaps over or inside the OT (PFF)— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 2, 2023
He shows good awareness as a run defender, keeping eyes up & tracking the ball through the block engagement, plus he sheds blocks w/ a purpose pic.twitter.com/iQWu0vzjGV
He typically made up for his size deficit by using good pad level and well-timed get-offs so he could be the first to bring the punch when engaging blocks. Once he was engaged, he remained aware of the ball carrier’s position — just as we see on this play. Keeping his eyes up, Anudike-Uzomah works toward the ball, shedding blocks to make the play.
It won’t be quite as easy to shed the blocks of NFL offensive linemen — but in these reps, it is Anuduike-Uzomah’s balance that is impressive. He doesn’t play too high or too low, allowing him to stay up through blocks and fight through them.
FAU also moves in space well for his size. It's not just the get off to chase down runs to the other side, he has the athleticism to change direction & make a play in the flats pic.twitter.com/43fc5HWR6Y— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 2, 2023
He’s also just a good athlete for his position, showing off an ability to make plays in the flat — or chase down a running back from the back side of a run. It’s not just his get-off that gets him somewhere in a hurry; he can change direction in the open field to make a play.
Even though he does have collegiate experience in the trenches, he may still need to improve his playing strength in order to consistently hold up against the run at the next level. He has the technique and body control — but in college, he still had reps in which he was physically overwhelmed.
The bottom line
In recent years, former Kansas City defensive end Frank Clark served as the team’s lighter, more athletic defensive end. Anudike-Uzomah projects to fill that role.
In the short term, he can provide some of the speed rushing that Clark contributed in recent seasons, complementing the team’s power rushers. In the long term, we can see Anudike-Uzomah developing into the run defender that Clark was, using his impressive leverage and balance to always stay in position.
Overall, I see the Chiefs’ first-round pick developing into exactly the player the team has been craving since Clark’s peak performances in 2019: a three-down defensive end. Anudike-Uzomah may not be there on Day 1 — but unlike other defensive linemen on the roster, he has the tools to get there.