Kansas City Chiefs rookie defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah was the team's highest draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but so far we haven't heard his name called much through the first five weeks on the NFL season.
So far this season, Anudike-Uzomah has recorded 9 combined tackles, 4 quarterback hits, and half a sack. While Anudike-Uzomah hasn't been bad whatsoever, he's been relatively quiet to kick off his career and the sack production hasn't really come yet.
Despite the rather slow start from Anudike-Uzomah, he's showing normal progression for a player at his position and fans shouldn't be too concerned about the lack of pop from him on the stat sheet or while watching the game.
The slow statistical start for Felix Anudike-Uzomah's career is right where it should be.
There are quite a few reasons why Anudike-Uzomah is on track for Kansas City. First, it still needs to be acknowledged that Anudike-Uzomah is currently playing a role that he wasn't expected to play before the start of the season. Charles Omenihu was going to be the likely starter opposite of second-year pass rusher George Karlaftis before facing a six-game suspension to start the 2023 season.
Anudike-Uzomah was supposed to be playing more of a situational role because of the depth the Chiefs had at the position and it was an ideal situation for a rookie to walk into to begin his first season. Instead, he's being asked to play a more substantial role and he's played over 30% of the team's defensive snaps this season.
Not only has Anudike-Uzomah been playing more than expected so far to begin his career, he's actually been pretty good. He's not stuffing the stat sheet or getting a bunch of sacks, but he's had a handful of noticeable rushes and he's been generating a good amount of pressure. Additionally, you don't see his side of the line being a huge weakness when he's on the field in run or pass scenarios.
Yes, Anudike-Uzomah doesn't even have a full sack yet, but it shouldn't be a reason to worry. To put Anudike-Uzomah's progress into perspective, George Karlaftis only had half a sack through the first 10 games of his rookie season last year. He ended the year with 6.0 sacks and tallied more in the postseason. So, it's not like it's too late for Anudike-Uzomah to make an impact in his rookie season.
Ultimately, there's little reason to worry about Felix Anudike-Uzomah's progression to this point. There aren't many instant-impact pass rushers in the draft each year and typically the really good ones are gone by the top 15 picks. Anudike-Uzomah may not be an instant impact pass rusher, but it is still very early to be evaluating a rookie defensive end and he's got plenty of time to round out his game to become a solid contributor before the end of the year.