Kansas State football’s first round NFL Draft drought is officially over after 13 years, as the Kansas City Chiefs use the 31st, and final*, pick of the 1st round of the 2023 NFL Draft to select EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
Anudike-Uzomah is no stranger to the Chiefs, which makes this particular draft story even sweeter. The 6’4, 255lb terrorizing defensive end was born in Kansas City, MO, and lived there, eventually graduating from Lee’s Summit HS, until he chose to take a scholarship offer to Kansas State and moved to Manhattan. Not only did he grow up int he Chiefs backyard, but his selection was announced from Kansas City’s Union Station, home of the draft this season.
FAU was a lightly-recruited 3-star prospect, that was undersized coming out of high school. But Chris Klieman and the K-State staff saw huge potential, and he certainly proved them right. He saw action immediately in his true freshman season of 2020, where he carded his first career sack in the blowout win over KU.
But it was 2021 that saw his star fully ascend. He blasted out of the gates with a 3-sack performance against Southern Illinois in the opener, but made a name for himself in late October with a crushing safety against Texas Tech that helped spur the Wildcats to a much-needed victory (snapped a 3-game losing streak). The following week against TCU, King Felix nabbed an NCAA-record six sacks and two forced fumbles....until the NCAA came in later and said the two forced fumbles wouldn’t count as sacks since the ball was recovered (by K-State) past the original line of scrimmage. He finished the season with 11.0 sacks, 14.5 TFL’s, and 51 total tackles, plus six forced fumbles and that critical safety.
2022 was not quite as sterling stats-wise for Anudike-Uzomah, but mostly because the eventual Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, and All-American had to fight through regular double-teams and consistent and obvious holding all season long. But he still managed a 3-sack performance against Texas Tech (I’m sure the Red Raiders are happy to have him out of the conference), and finished the Big 12 Championship season with 8.5 sacks, 11.0 TFL’s, and 46 overall tackles.
Overall, FAU is headed off to Kansas City tied for sixth in school history in career sacks with 20.5, while he’s tied for fourth in career forced fumbles with eight. He also joins Nyle Wiren with most games with 3.0 or more sacks in school history with each hitting that mark three times.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah became the first Wildcat to go in the first round of the NFL Draft since Josh Freeman was selected by Tampa Bay with the 17th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, and is just the 6th Wildcat all-time to be selected in the first round, joining K-State legends Veryl Switzer, Clarence Scott, Chris Canty, Terence Newman, and Freeman.
*if you weren’t aware, there were only 31 picks in the first round this year because the Miami Dolphins had to vacate their pick due to a tampering violation