Despite the massive hype following Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr, there are plenty of pass rushers that will yet again grab the attention of the NFL scouting community because of the importance of the position. But who falls behind this media darling that could become a prospective star at the pro level? Felix Anudike-Uzomah is a prospect.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Felix Anudike-Uzomah was named after his father and headed into a career in football after a prestigious high school career that included both All-District and All-State honors. Eventually, he committed to North Dakota State, the powerful FCS program, but then decommitted to head over to Kansas State University, where he found his home. Here, he developed into a quality pass rusher with the skills to hit the pro level.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah college success
One of nine true freshmen to start during the 2020 Covid season, Anudike Uzomah registered his first sack against rival Kansas. He then went on to dominate in the Big-12, registering a 4 sack game versus the now Heisman nominee Max Duggan, and racking up 11 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and 14.5 tackles for loss. This earned him first team All-Big 12 honors, a co-defensive player of the year award for the conference, and a third-team All-American nomination. Felix Anudike-Uzomah went on to follow up such a great season with 8.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
While it hasn’t been made official, Felix Anudike-Uzomah should be entering the 2023 NFL Draft with two consecutive seasons of success as a pass rusher in the spread heavy Big-12. Additionally, he would make money as a prospective younger prospect at only 21 years old come draft time, giving NFL teams promise to help develop him as time goes on, if necessary.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah is a solid pass rusher that takes his responsibilities seriously. In the run game, he stacks quickly and attacks the hole with a quickness when the run is directed to him. When it isn’t, he fires off the ball and chases behind to try and secure a tackle. Versus the pass game, Anudike-Uzomah maintains that fiery presence, attacking with energy and using an underarm swipe that is effective to free him up to the opposing quarterback.
Speaking of his positives, my favorite part of his game is his attacking nature. He’ll chase plays from behind and run up field to chase a ball carrier down on every single play if necessary. His energy is present on every play and he possesses a tremendous motor that pro coaches are going to love heading into his rookie season.
Technique wise, he’s an avid user of his arms to attack, stack and shed versus the pass, runs the arc with a quickness and either long arms or stays low to attack that arc. Anudike-Uzomah is a bendy rusher, and that’s coveted at the pro level. He pushes the edge well enough to be a threat versus the opposing quarterback and understands the need to maintain low pad level and leverage in order to bull rush or set the edge against the run.
What I love about Anudike-Uzomah’s game is his variance in his attack. While his pass rush toolkit isn’t exactly expanded, he varies his pacing on the arc or his burst to throw opposing blockers off and to take them off their set so he can either bull rush and attack, or run the arc and take them off guard. That strategy is something professional players do and it’s outstanding by him and the coaching staff to ensure he keeps that during his play.
Anudike-Uzmoah’s areas to improve
For any negatives that Felix Anudike-Uzomah has, he backs it up with exceptional positives. While his pass rush repertoire isn’t so expanded, he overcomes that with effort, motor, and ability to chase. He demonstrates an inability to disengage at times, but, again, he chases with such effort that he is always around the ball carrier.
Anudike-Uzomah runs the arc well and bull rushes, but he doesn’t have a great counter move just yet. His closure inside from an outer perspective, or his ability to stunt inside and counter out when a quarterback moves off center is lacking. Additionally, at times Anudike-Uzomah drops his head on contact, taking his eyes off the play and forcing him to react at the last second rather than keeping his eyes on the ball and using his motor to chase it down more immediately.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah’s overall draft potential
Overall, Felix Anudike-Uzomah presents an exceptional draft profile for a potential 2023 NFL Draft prospect. He’s an athletic, bendy, fiery rusher that attacks with energy and uses his athleticism combined with technique to win his responsibilities. While he struggles to disengage at times or work a counter move to react to plays, along with his head drop, his motor helps him achieve at a high level and is demonstrative to how players should work their tail off because it can make up for any deficiencies.
Ultimately, Anudike-Uzomah’s 2022 tape was better than his 2021 tape, in my opinion, despite better stats from the latter year. I love his energy, motor, and “set the example” nature. The ball ran away from him frequently in 2022, and he was doubled more often than in 2021. This proves that his potential is ascending and could potentially be worth a first round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. If he doesn’t make the first, I wouldn’t be surprised that he’s an early second rounder this Spring.