The Kansas City Chiefs finished the first round of the 2023 NFL draft with a crowd-pleasing pick, taking Kansas City native and Kansas State Wildcats standout Felix Anudike-Uzomah with the 31st overall pick.
Anudike-Uzomah excelled at K-State, tallying 20.5 career sacks in three collegiate seasons, capping off his time with the Wildcats by winning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He also had an 11-sack campaign in 2021 and received All-America recognition from multiple outlets in his final two seasons in Manhattan.
“We love his ability to rush the passer and play the run,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He can do both.”
Despite below average height and weight for his position, Anudike-Uzomah tested well during the lead up to the draft, posting an 8.73 Relative Athletic Score.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared Anudike-Uzomah to Dante Fowler Jr. and was mostly positive when breaking down his professional prospects.
“His urgency leads to playmaking opportunities, but he will need to harness that energy and play with better control to become a more efficient defender,” Zierlein wrote. “There is more polish needed, but Anudike-Uzomah’s NFL rush potential should eventually make him an NFL starter.”
The former Lee’s Summit star now gets to play for the team he cheered for growing up in the metro.
“I got drafted by literally my favorite team growing up,” Anudike-Uzomah said.
Edge rusher was considered one of the bigger needs for the Chiefs entering the draft this year, and this is now two years in a row that Kansas City has taken a pass rusher with a first rounder. Last year, it was Purdue’s George Karlaftis, who started every regular and postseason game for the Chiefs, posting seven total sacks in his first campaign.
“We thought we could use another defensive lineman. He fits into that,” Reid said.
Several runs throughout the first round put the Chiefs in a potentially precarious position, specifically with most of the highly regarded offensive tackles and wide receivers going off the board long before Kansas City’s pick. Even so, the Chiefs didn’t waver when they went on the clock.
“Felix is a heck of a player,” Reid said.
The Chiefs have nine picks remaining and are scheduled to have two picks on Day 2 of the draft, holding the 63rd overall pick at the end of the second round and No. 95 overall near the end of the third round. The second round begins Friday at 6:00 p.m.