By Matt McMullen – Chiefs.com
The Kansas City Chiefs bolstered their pass-rush on Thursday night with the selection of former K-State star and Lee’s Summit High School alum Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
Here are five things to know about the newest member of the squad.
1. Anudike-Uzomah was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2022.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Anudike-Uzomah was immensely productive over the last two seasons for the Wildcats, racking up 25.5 tackles-for-loss, 19.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles in 27 games. He recorded at least eight sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss in each of the last two seasons while leading the FBS in forced fumbles in 2021.
Additionally, Anudike-Uzomah’s efforts this past season – which included 11 tackles-for-loss and 8.5 sacks – earned him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors and a Second-Team All-America nod.
2. He possesses a tremendous blend of speed and power.
Anudike-Uzomah brings a varied skillset to the table that should make him a versatile and capable contributor early in his professional career. For example, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote the following about Anudike-Uzomah’s play style in his annual draft guide:
“Anudike-Uzomah plays hard and mixes up his rush to keep his pursuit alive, which is what he does best. He projects as a physical, face-up power rusher with the impact potential to compete for an NFL starting role as a rookie.”
The 21-year-old Anudike-Uzomah brings more than just power and strength to his game, however, as Pro Football Focus called him one of the “bendiest” defensive linemen in this class.
Here’s more from PFF:
“Bend is one of the most coveted traits for an edge rusher for a reason. Being able to consistently get underneath offensive tackles the way Anudike-Uzomah can makes life a lot easier…He’s one of the best edge benders in the draft class, and he’s the type of edge rusher that’s going to convert a lot of pressures to sacks because of that. Of his 89 pressures the past two seasons, 21 ended up as sacks.”
3. Anudike-Uzomah was lauded during the pre-draft process for his pass-rushing “toolbox.”
Physical and athletic traits are one thing, but Anudike-Uzomah also earned praise for his cerebral approach to the game during the pre-draft process. Here’s more from PFF:
“I love his pass-rushing toolbox. He already knows the speed-rusher playbook.”
Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah from NFL.com agreed with that assessment, writing the following:
“When he got to play outside for the Wildcats, he displayed a variety of ways to generate pressure. He has a violent slap/rip move, a nifty spin and a quick hand-swipe maneuver. He is also effective as a looper. To see his full potential, watch the 2021 game against TCU, when he collected four sacks and harassed Max Duggan the entire game.”
The reality for many college pass-rushers is that they are so much better than their competition that they don’t take the time to learn multiple moves and approaches to getting after the quarterback. That mindset often makes for a difficult transition to the NFL, but fortunately for the Chiefs, Anudike-Uzomah already appears to be ahead of the curve in that regard.
4. Multiple outlets considered him to be one of the top defensive end prospects in the draft.
Anudike-Uzomah was widely ranked by the various pre-draft guides and experts in the exact range that the Chiefs ended up selecting him. Here’s a quick look at where a variety of outlets placed him prior to the draft:
Pro Football Focus Top 100: No. 32 overall
Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com) Top 150: No. 32 overall
Danny Kelly (The Ringer) Top 85: No. 37 overall
5. Anudike-Uzomah is a Kansas City native who attended Lee’s Summit High School.
If what happened on Thursday night was in a movie, it frankly wouldn’t have seemed realistic. The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs just closed out the first round – which was taking place in Kansas City – by selecting a prospect who grew up only a few miles from the stage.
It was nothing short of a storybook moment, and unsurprisingly, Anudike-Uzomah grew up rooting for his new team.
“I’m the biggest Chiefs fan,” said Anudike-Uzomah on Thursday night. “When [defensive end] George [Karlaftis] got drafted last year, I was jumping up and down just like any other fan. It’s crazy to be on the other side of it now.”
Anudike-Uzomah earned this moment, too. It wasn’t too long ago that the Lee’s Summit High School alum went largely overlooked during the collegiate recruiting cycle. Kansas State offered Anudike-Uzomah a scholarship two days before early signing day, however, and the rest is history. The Kansas City native made the most of his opportunity in Manhattan, and now just a few years later, he’s back home as a member of the defending world champions.