The Kansas City Chiefs tackled a major need in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft when they selected Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah with the 31st overall pick. Fittingly, Anudike-Uzomah is from the local area and was selected by the Chiefs as they were hosting the draft in Kansas City. Overall, an exciting night for the organization.
With Anudike-Uzomah now in the fold, the Chiefs can cross off their need at defensive end. Not that they can’t add a high-upside guy later on, but this pick fills a hole. The Chiefs said goodbye to Frank Clark this past offseason when they cut him before free agency and Carlos Dunlap remains a free agent. Those were two guys that played a pretty significant role for Kansas City in 2022.
In free agency, the Chiefs were able to add pass-rusher Charles Omenihu who will play a big role for Kansas City next season, but the team still needed more. Omenihu is a borderline starter but there also wasn’t much behind him and Karlaftis. Kansas City not only needed bodies at the position, but they needed a talent injection.
What does EDGE depth chart look like for KC Chiefs with FAU?
Now factoring in Anudike-Uzomah, the Chiefs have Anudike-Uzomah, George Karlaftis, Charles Omenihu, Mike Danna, Malik Herring, and Joshua Kaindoh as part of their defensive end room. The focus is on the top four of Karlaftis, Danna, Omenihu, and Anudike-Uzomah. Herring and Kaindoh are depth guys who might give you something but the four-man rotation is pretty much set.
At the end of the day, Chris Jones is the engine that makes the defensive line run, but sophomore George Karlaftis will headline the EDGE position after recording 6.5 sacks as a rookie. He’ll likely transition into being a full-time player and lead the position in snaps.
Mike Danna has quietly become a steady presence for the Chiefs and has developed some pass-rush ability as a veteran. He’s comfortable in the No. 3 or No. 4 spot depending on the matchup and how he’s used but that’s the perfect role for him. Asking Danna to be anything more than a rotational guy that can set the edge and you’re sacrificing quality pass-rush that the other three can give you. Of course, Anudike-Uzomah will have to earn those reps.
The Omenihu acquisition is interesting. He’ll probably be listed as DE2 but he’ll likely be a co-starter with Anudike-Uzomah on the other side. Anudike-Uzomah will need time to develop as a run defender so Omenihu will probably be leaned on for the early downs and Anudike-Uzomah will be brought in for pass-rush situations and Omenihu can be moved inside on pass-rush downs. Remember, Brett Veach mentioned that Omenihu would fill a need on the interior and he played plenty inside with San Francisco last season. Omenihu has the size and physicality to play on the inside consistently but he’ll still be used at edge plenty.
All in all, that’s a solid top four to have coming out of day one of the 2023 NFL Draft. Anudike-Uzomah can absolutely get after it and he has a lot of bend and flexibility that no other current Chiefs defensive end really has and that will get him on the field early as someone who can be a pass-rush specialist.