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Scouting Spotlight: Kansas State EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah Vs Texas Tech

Throughout the fall at Steelers Depot, we will be highlighting several possible draft prospects the Pittsburgh Steelers may have interest in for the 2023 NFL Draft and their performance during the college football season.

The Kansas State Wildcats defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders at home this weekend by a score of 37-28. The Wildcat defense complimented the dynamic duo of Adrian Martinez and Deuce Vaughn on offense, putting pressure on the opposing QB to the tune of four QB hurries, ten TFLs, three PBUs, six sacks, and two INTs. The defensive standout for Kansas State was none other than EDGE #91 Felix Anudike-Uzomah who finished the day with six total tackles (five solo), three TFLs, three sacks with one being a sack strip fumble recovered by the defense.

The Film

When you watch Anudike-Uzomah, you see a well-versed pass rusher that has multiple tools in the toolbox in terms of getting after the passer. He is a good athlete that pairs excellent burst and get off with hand usage and fluidity to defeat blocks get around the corner into the box. Here is one of Anudike-Uzomah’s sacks where he uses a Euro-step and double-swipe at the top of his rush, then gets a quick rip to round the corner and into the back of #7 Donovan Smith who he brings down for the sack in the backfield. This rep just shows Anudike-Uzomah’s ability to string multiple moves together for a beautiful rush.

 

Anudike-Uzomah has shown that he can win with finesse as a pass rusher, but also with effort in terms of getting off blocks and playing chase in pursuit of the QB. On this sack, we see him get hands on the LT then swipe off the block as he catches the blocker leaning forward, getting the inside swim move over the tackle’s outside shoulder. Anudike-Uzomah clears the block and hunts down Smith like a lion chasing down his prey in the open field, closing the distance quickly and swings him down for the sack.

 

Anudike-Uzomah was coming off an 11-sack season prior to the start of the 2022 campaign, meaning that opposing offenses had been game planning for him once the schedule came out as one of the better pass rushers in the country. He was chipped or double teamed often in this matchup, getting the LT and LG helping on him when K-State only sent three or four. Still, Anudike-Uzomah managed to still be disruptive when facing two blockers like on his third sack where he walks back the LT and sticks a hand out to knock the football out of the QB’s hands as he brings him down through the blocker, putting the ball on the ground for a teammate to recover for the turnover.

 

When singled-up with OTs on an island, Anudike-Uzomah showed he could counter rush depending on how the blocker played him. In this clip, we see the LT give a fair amount space on the inside gap, setting up Anudike-Uzomah perfectly on the stunt call to crash inside as the linebacker loops around the outside for a free track to the QB. The LB gets credit for the sack here, but Anudike-Uzomah should get the assist thanks to crashing the pocket and ripping through the block of the LT as he and the LB converge on the QB.

 

Even when Anudike-Uzomah couldn’t get home, he did a good job of putting pressure on the QB to hurry the throw and force an arid pass. Here is one example of Anudike-Uzomah forcing Smith to throw hot as he crashes inside on the pass rush across the LT’s face nearly getting a hand on the passer who manages to complete the pass over the middle for a first down.

 

However, there were other instances throughout the game where Anudike-Uzomah managed to affect the passer enough to force a hurried throw. Watch Anudike-Uzomah on this rep where he gets his right hand on the LT’s outside shoulder and left hand on his chest, getting enough of a push to get around the corner and dips around the edge. He reaches in to try and bat the pass attempt from Smith who fires the pass just high and outside the reach of his intended target, resulting in an incompletion.

 

There were instances where Anudike-Uzomah didn’t execute as a pass rusher, whether it be due to a lack of block shedding or because of balance issues during his rush. We see the latter here as he tries to stunt inside, but loses his footing and falls to the turf, getting pancaked by the OL with Smith finds an open receiver in the end zone for the score.

 

One thing that also stood out was that Anudike-Uzomah rotated in-and-out of the game regularly, especially on early downs. This brings into question his run defense as he primarily came onto the field in pass rush situations or when the offense was in the hurry up. I wouldn’t characterize Anudike-Uzomah as bad against the run, but he does need to add more strength and play with better anchor to avoid getting washed off the LOS. Watch this run play by Texas Tech and how Anudike-Uzomah gets high and extended, ceding ground to the LT. He manages to cross face and get in on the tackle.

 

Conclusion

Overall, it was a good showing from Felix Anudike-Uzomah who is off to a hot start in 2022 with 5.5 sacks, seven TFLs, and two forced fumbles after posting 11 sacks and sixed forced fumbled last season. He is a talented pass rusher that wins with finesse and technique as well as power and effort as he chases down opposing QBs with speed. The caused havoc upfront against the Red Raiders’ OL for most of the afternoon, getting pressure on the QB even when he couldn’t get home.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah needs to continue to get stronger to hold his own at the point of attack and set the edge to be considered a full-time player at the next level instead of just a pass rush specialist. When watching him in pursuit of the football and the ways he wins as a pass rusher, Anudike-Uzomah reminds me of Eagles EDGE Josh Sweat who also is a long, athletic pass rusher that plays mostly with his hand in the dirt and can win with power as well as speed and good hand usage around the corner.

Pittsburgh needs capable pass rushers behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, and with Highsmith also in the final year of his rookie deal next season, EDGE should be high on Pittsburgh’s list of needs for the 2023 NFL Draft. Felix Anudike-Uzomah could come in as the #3 option off the bench, seeing 10-12 snaps a game in relief of the starters and provide a quality pass rush while continuing to develop into his body much like Highsmith did his rookie season to become a well-rounded OLB in Pittsburgh’s base 3-4 defense. Should Anudike-Uzomah keep up this production and test well this spring, it would be hard to see him fall out of the top three rounds come draft season.

What are your thoughts on Felix Anudike-Uzomah’s performance against Cal? Do you think he showcased the skillset of a dynamic edge rusher in the league? Do you think he should be in-play for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the early stages of the draft? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!

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