The Kansas City Chiefs will be filling in some important reps along the defensive front when they consider their rotations heading into Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers. In the wake of a significant injury—a torn ACL, in fact—for versatile pass rusher Charles Omenihu, the Chiefs are now wondering how best to make up for his production.
One answer, according to Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, is found in the team's most recent first-round selection: defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
The Chiefs first-round pick could end the season with a real chance to showcase his potential.
The Chiefs drafted Anudike-Uzomah in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Kansas State after the pass rusher had put up yet another solid season as a productive edge in the Big 12. Anudike-Uzomah also earned some early playing time for the Chiefs as they dealt with the learning curve of a new year and the six-week suspension for Omenihu to start the season.
Once Omenihu returned to the line-up, however, the depth of the position and the need for greater strength and better technique for Anudike-Uzomah forced him to the sidelines. It made sense given that George Karlaftis and Mike Danna had the starting positions locked down. Chris Jones also likes to slide outside on occasion and Omenihu was going to earn his reps, too.
What was surprising for fans was just how little Anudike-Uzomah would play down the stretch, however, Former Georgia product Malik Herring was even earning more playing time than FAU, and given the buzz around first-round selections, it didn't take long before some fans lazily applied a "bust" label on social media.
The truth, however, is that the team has remained positive on Anudike-Uzomah all along even as he's' sat as a healthy scratch in the postseason. In these games, a player's floor is much more important than his ceiling since teams will feast on a mismatch any way they can generate one. In a player like Herring, who has been in and around the organization since 2021, the Chiefs have someone they can trust a bit more at this stage.
Now that Omenihu is injured, however, the team also has more reps to fill and it's likely that Herring will earn more even as Anudike-Uzomah is also tasked with some as well.
Anudike-Uzomah had 14 tackles, 7 quarterback hits, and a half-sack for the Chiefs during the regular season.