Why the Chiefs should give all the reps to Felix Anudike-Uzomah

Kansas v Kansas State
Kansas v Kansas State / Peter G. Aiken/GettyImages

Imagine the following scenario: you're planting some landscaping for the sake of a neighborhood competition and you've decided to completely refigure the primary trees out front. Over the last year or so, you've uprooted older, inherited conifers and you've bought exciting new evergreens that will grow to anchor the overall landscaping plan for years to come.

The hard part here, to extend the analogy, is that for the sake of competition, you can't only worry about the long-term growth of this yard. You also are still interested in winning yet another landscaping award for this coming year. That means that you're looking at the overall lack of shade, the relative youth of it all, and the amount of open space as a bad thing. Is there enough substance here to make a difference for the short- and long-term both?

It's possible in such a scenario for you to add some accompanying plants that will take up some of the space and make things feel more complete. You also know, however, that putting some of these plants in the way for temporary gains will also keep you from seeing what these evergreens might become sooner than later. And the payoff for these plants might be exactly what will put this yard over the top for years to come.

The Kansas City Chiefs should allow both of their first-round investments to eat up as many reps as possible in 2023.

While such a set-up might sound silly, it's very much akin to what the Chiefs are facing along the defensive front in 2023. They've set up the long-term horses to run alongside Chris Jones's remaining prime seasons in the NFL. By utilizing consecutive first-round picks on defensive ends George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah, the Chiefs have replaced older trees with younger seeds, ones with exciting potential to redefine the Chiefs pass rush for a new generation.

In the face of such a youth movement, it's possible to wonder if the Chiefs need more and it's a worthy question. Even as recently as Frank Clark's free agency, I myself was rooting for the Chiefs to bring back Clark for the sake of his leadership and big-game performances knowing that the team lacks proven quantities and the season can be quite long for contenders.

However, Clark recently signed with the Denver Broncos, which meant the Chiefs were going to have to go with someone either unfamiliar or declining in any sort of rotational veteran role. And at this stage, I'm not sure the likes of Carlos Dunlap or a similar player can offer anything more than what Anudike-Uzomah can add with greater playing time.

Yes, Justin Houston looks nice, but he's had every chance to reunite with the Chiefs and has taken every other invitation instead. The same can be said for Melvin Ingram, who looked good in K.C. but was only ever on the team after Brett Veach traded for him.

Beyond those players, the Chiefs are likely better off seeing what their younger plants can blossom into rather than crowding them out of important reps in their first season.

Remember what George Karlaftis showed last year. He was overmatched at times in the first half of the season with bursts of potential alongside a lot of reps where he was shoved aside or taken out of the play by an opposing linemen. He faced a significant learning curve after dominating at Purdue, but the reps across from Clark paid off with a second half that showed the lights had clearly come on for him.

Anudike-Uzomah is going to need the same sort of runway if he is to take off in 2023. The Chiefs have Karlaftis, who should look like a potential star in the making, on one side. Charles Omenihu has also been signed to serve as a potential starter or important rotational role both inside and out. Even beyond that, the Chiefs have Mike Danna as a proven edge defender and rookie B.J. Thompson who flashed serious potential at a small school (Stephen F. Austin).

By going with two young players outside on starter's reps, the Chiefs might see the prospects washed out of plays more often than they'd like early on, but it's also true that the team's coaches are likely going to have them learning from such mistakes early in their careers. If the Chiefs can keep up their winning ways while taking some hits in the pass rush, they could find themselves looking very, very good defensively in years to come.