There's no reason to judge Felix Anudike-Uzomah after a single season

The book has yet to be written about the Chiefs first-round pick from a year ago.
Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

One year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs went with a local product in front of a hometown crowd for their first-round pick in the very 2023 NFL Draft the city had been planning to host for years. It was a heartwarming story and the cherry on top of a very successful and exciting weekend for the region.

But looking back, for a decent number of fans in Chiefs Kingdom, that's all it was—a feel-good story—and ultimately a busted pick given what the team has seen from Felix Anudike-Uzomah so far. Just after one season, some fans are already panning the pick and complaining about a first-round "bust" for general manager Brett Veach.

They're getting the story wrong.

The book has yet to be written about the Chiefs first-round pick from a year ago.

When the Chiefs decided to go with Anudike-Uzomah, they did so because they saw a pass rushing project worth taking on. FAU was a one-man wrecking crew in a short span of time as a starter, a stint long enough to earn him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and name him a third-team All-American even as he was still figuring out how to defend the run better.

Anudike-Uzomah turned heads at Kansas State in only two seasons as a starter with 19.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in 26 games. He also forced 8 fumbles in that span, including 6 in his final season for the Wildcats—tied for most in the nation.

Coming into the pros, scouts raved about Anudike-Uzoman's pro-ready technique and productivity as a pass rusher even though he entered the draft at only 21 years of age. Just like other linemen like Mike Danna and George Karlaftis, Anudike-Uzomah was also described as a player with a non-stop motor, someone who will play through the whistle. Given his acceleration, quickness, and repertoire of moves, he brought an exciting package as a prospect to the NFL.

However, it was also clear that, as young and inexperienced as he was, Anudike-Uzomah still needed significant time to bulk up from his 255-lb. stature and to add upper-body strength in the trenches. He also needed a lot of work with coaches to round out his game as a run defender. In short, FAU was never going to be a Week 1 starter on the edge, a la Karlaftis. Then Chiefs also didn't need him to be.

Yes, the Chiefs took back-to-back defensive ends in the first round in successive drafts, but the results were never supposed to rival each other. Karlaftis was drafted into a serious roster void for the Chiefs, and given his well-rounded skill set, he was pro-ready to take over and learn on the job from his first week. To his credit, Karlaftis blew most expectations out of the water and he's been a sensational addition for K.C. through two seasons.

For Anudike-Uzomah, the build was always going to keep him as a situational pass rusher only in his first season, and he might never be a three-down player for the Chiefs. That doesn't mean he can't be a dynamic sack artist who's leaned upon on obvious passing downs to help disrupt the opponent.

sifAnudike-Uzomah was always going to need time and training and the Chiefs brought him into such an environment. Anyone blasting FAU for not being something he's not is subscribing to some lazy theory that a first-round pick has to be plug-and-play from the jump. Give him time and he should turn into another productive young piece up front for Steve Spagnuolo.