Kansas City Chiefs Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Rashee Rice, WR, SMU – Round 2
During the leadup to the 2023 NFL Draft, there was a lot of buzz about the Chiefs targeting wide receiver help in the first round. After trading away Tyreek Hill and having some other veteran turnover, Kansas City was in the market for receiver talent to help Pat Mahomes. While the Chiefs missed out on the first-round wide receivers, they were able to come away with a potential future contributor in Rice.

Rice (6-1, 204) was a productive player for SMU, showing off a nice combination of size and speed. In his final season with the Mustangs, Rice was a steady weapon who hauled in 96 passes for 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns. One trait that fits really well for Kansas City is Rice’s ability to break off his route to find openings for his quarterback when they are scrambling. Rice is a perfect fit for the Chiefs with Mahomes’ style of play.

The Kansas City depth chart will be an open competition for playing time. The team’s top-three receivers could be Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore, but Rice could factor into the competition as well. It might take some time, but it would not surprise me if Rice turns into a solid starter for the Chiefs.

2022: George Karlaftis, DE
2021: Creed Humphrey, C
2020: Willie Gay Jr., LB
2019: Khalen Saunders, DT
2018: Derrick Nnadi, DT
2017: Kareem Hunt, RB
2016: Chris Jones, DT
2015: Mitch Morse, G
2014: Philip Gaines, CB
2013: Eric Fisher, OT

Most Likely To Bust

Wanya Morris, OT, Oklahoma – Round 3
This offseason, the Chiefs lost veteran Orlando Brown in free agency and signed Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith. Smith figures to be the starter at left tackle, while Taylor should man the right side. Taylor received a big contract, but Smith did not, and Smith played terribly for Tampa Bay in 2022. Hence, he could get beaten out for the job and might only be a 1-year rental by Kansas City.

Thus, Morris has a great opportunity to develop into a starter with the Chiefs. However, sources from around the NFL said that Morris lacked physicality and strength. Those issues could be even bigger issues for him at the pro level. Morris could get pushed around by pro defensive linemen and not give the Chiefs much drive in the ground game. It would not surprise me if Morris disappointments for Kansas City.

2022: Skyy Moore, WR
2021: Joshua Kaindoh, DE
2020: Lucas Niang, OT
2019: Mecole Hardman, WR
2018: Dorian O’Daniel, LB
2017: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE
2016: KeiVarae Russell, CB
2015: Chris Conley, WR
2014: Dee Ford, OLB
2013: Knile Davis, RB

Potential Boom Pickr

Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State – Round 1
During the 2022 season, Kansas City was said to have tried to trade for Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns, so it was not surprising that an edge rusher was a top priority after Carolina rejected that trade. The Chiefs landed Anudike-Uzomah at the end of the first round, which was solid value for them.

In the pass rush, Anudike-Uzomah (6-3, 255) is a hard-charging edge defender who doesn’t quit. He is not overly fast or strong, but he has a knack for fighting through blocks and possesses enough quickness to make him a threat to turn the corner. Anudike-Uzomah has some strength and is able to use his hands and feet at the time to shed blocks. Frequently when Anudike-Uzomah is initially blocked, he’ll be able to make things happen for his defense through his second effort. Anudike-Uzomah is the epitome of a try-hard guy who earns some sacks off from not quitting. Anudike-Uzomah is not a speed demon off the edge, and he does not have the size or strength to overpower tackles. Thus, his collegiate sack numbers probably won’t be duplicated in the NFL.

As a run defender, Anudike-Uzomah is at his best trying to cause havoc in the backfield by pushing through the line. He is going to have problems taking on pro offensive lines and holding his gap in downhill runs coming straight at him because he is undersized to handle the run in the NFL. He gives a great effort and plays tough, but his natural size presents limitations as a run stopper at the pro level.

The Chiefs have some solid ends to pair with Anudike-Uzomah, including George Karlaftis, Charles Omenihu and Mike Danna. However, none of those three should prevent Anudike-Uzomah from seizing a starting spot. With Chris Jones on the inside, Anudike-Uzomah could turn into a dangerous pass rusher. Kansas City plays from the lead a lot, providing their pass rushers with a lot of opportunities because teams are forced to pass a lot while trying to catch up. The Chiefs are a great situation for Anudike-Uzomah, and he could end up being a boom pick for them.

2022: Trent McDuffie, CB
2021: Nick Bolton, LB
2020: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB
2019: Juan Thornhill, S
2018: Breeland Speaks, DT
2017: Pat Mahomes, QB
2016: Demarcus Robinson, WR
2015: Marcus Peters, CB
2014: De’Anthony Thomas, RB
2013: Travis Kelce, TE

Future Depth Player

Chamarri Conner, CB, Virginia Tech – Round 4
Conner had a strong start to his career at Virginia Tech, but did not have a big 2022 to close out his career. Hence, he was viewed as a third-day prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft. Conner does not have game-breaking speed, but he has size and toughness. It would not surprise me if Conner shows some ability to chip in at cornerback and safety while also being a special teams contributor. Conner may never develop into being a starter, but he could be a solid backup for Kansas City.

2022: Bryan Cook, S
2021: Cornell Powell, WR
2020: L’Jarius Snead, DB
2019: Darwin Thompson, RB
2018: Amrani Watts, S
2017: Jehu Chesson, WR
2016: Eric Murray, CB
2015: Steven Nelson, CB
2014: Aaron Murray, QB
2013: Sanders Commings, CB

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

31. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State – B- Grade
No one should be shocked that the Chiefs selected a pass rusher in the first round. With Joe Burrow and Josh Allen present in the AFC, the Chiefs need to make sure they get as much pressure on the quarterback as possible, and Felix Anudike-Uzomah is a talented player. I had him in the second frame, but I don’t think this is too much of a reach. That said, re-signing him and Geroge Karlaftis is going to be a headache in the future.

55. Rashee Rice, WR, SMU – C- Grade
The Chiefs traded up, so they must have gone after one of the Tennessee receivers. Apparently not. Rashee Rice projects as a solid No. 2 receiver in the NFL, unlike Jalin Hyatt. Given how many talented receivers were still available, I don’t know why Kansas City thought it had to trade up, especially for this player.

92. Wanya Morris, OT, Oklahoma – B+ Grade
The need is obvious, as the Chiefs lost both of their tackles this offseason. They obtained Jawaan Taylor, but still needed a tackle. Wanya Morris makes sense as a third-round pick. He’s very athletic for the position, but needs to get stronger.

119. Chamarri Connor, S/CB, Virginia Tech – C- Grade
I don’t get why the Chiefs traded up for Chamarri Connor, when he should have been available late in the draft. However, he fills a need, as the Chiefs lost Juan Thornhill this offseason. Connor is a solid in run support.

166. B.J. Thompson, DE, Stephen F. Austin – B- Grade
Adding to the pass rush makes sense, given the high-octane passing attacks in the AFC. B.J. Thompson was a highly productive pass rusher at Stephen F. Austin, but we’ll have to see if he can perform better against far superior competition.

194. Keondre Coburn, NT, Texas – C+ Grade
Keondre Coburn is not someone I had in my mocks because there is concern with him being able to keep his weight under control. He has potential as a solid run stuffer, however.

250. Nic Jones, CB, Ball State – B- Grade
Nic Jones is a high-effort player with very limited upside. I’d rather have someone with more potential here, but Jones can be a very good special teams player.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: C. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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