The investment was always a long-term one.
When the Kansas City Chiefs submitted a draft card with the name Felix Anudike-Uzomahds to the powers-that-be back in late April, it wasn't like the team's last few first-round selections in recent drafts. From Clyde Edwards-Helaire to George Karlaftis to Trent McDuffie, each of those early selections was meant to plug immediate holes and provide quick returns.
As for Anudike-Uzomah, the Chiefs knew all along that the Kansas State defensive end was going to see his playing time decrease before it would increase. In his first few games, FAU was able to see the field a bit more thanks to a six-game suspension handed down to fellow DE Charles Omenihu. When defensive tackle Chris Jones also chose to sit out Week 1, Anudike-Uzomah was even more important.
Heading into the postseason, it'd be nice if the Chiefs could learn a bit more about FAU.
From Week 1 to Week 5, Anudike-Uzomah played between 13 to 25 snaps and averaged 17.6 snaps/game. In the last four games, that number has dropped to 7. That's exactly what any observant fan would have predicted, so again it was part of the plan, and that's a good thing in some ways. It's a sign that the Chiefs have a solid line with tremendous depth, one that can allow even a first-round pick to learn slowly.
At the same time, the lack of meaningful reps for Anudike-Uzomah presents a potential concern for the Chiefs. Mike Danna is scheduled to hit free agency. Malik Herring is a restricted free agent. No one knows how the future will look for Chris Jones, but at this point, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see him playing for another team in 2024.
Moving forward, the Chiefs will have George Karlaftis, Anudike-Uzomah, and Omenihu in a contract season. B.J. Thompson is around as a raw project and situational pass rusher, but "Joshua Kaindoh" is all you need to say to remind fans that sometimes an unproven player can sit around as dead weight for three or even four seasons.
So what, then, should the Chiefs do in the interim? While no one wants to upset what's working on the defensive side for the Chiefs, it wouldn't hurt to inflate Anudike-Uzomah's opportunities just a bit. Even if he were to average 10 instead of 7 snaps a game, that's another 30 percent more game tape to produce and study. And when the Chiefs have a game firmly in hand, Anudike-Uzomah should be playing until he's ready to fall over.
By pressing a little bit for next season, the Chiefs would be doing themselves a great service for a time when it will matter greatly given the financial decisions that must be made at an important position. If Anudike-Uzomah can showcase some steady potential, it could make life much easier for Brett Veach a few months from now.