Chiefs explain why they selected DL Felix Anudike-Uzomah, WR Rashee Rice and OL Wanya Morris

The first three rounds of the NFL draft have come and gone — and the hometown Kansas City Chiefs have three new players.

On Day 1, the Chiefs held down 31st overall to select Kansas State running back Felix Anudike-Uzoma. The Chiefs traded up twice on day two, drafting SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice with the No. 55 pick in the second round, followed by Offensive Tackle Wanya Morris with the No. 92 pick in the third round.

Chiefs assistant general manager Mike Borgonzi joined the local Kansas City media at the conclusion of the 3rd round to discuss Kansas City’s first three selections, which filled what could be considered the club’s top three positions of need.

“You’re always looking for the best value on the board,” Borgonzi began, “but when you see those top positions, like Felix, he’s a pass seller. Coach [Andy] Reed always says you can’t get enough of those guys. Pass rushers, offensive line, defensive line, corners. That’s certainly true when we look at the board—those key positions. The cost is high to get these guys [if] it’s early in the draft or if it’s in free agency; usually those guys pay a lot. So, yes, it comes into play.”

DL Felix Anudike-Uzomah

Many thought Kansas City would trade up in the first round of the NFL Draft, but with AFC foes not answering the phone or prices too high, Anudike-Uzomah stayed with their original No. 31 pick.

“He’s a great kid, a self-made kid,” Borgonzi said. “He came to Kansas State, he was underweight and he put on some weight there — and then he got better as we watched him the last couple of years.”

On Thursday night, Anudike-Uzomah stressed that the coronavirus pandemic was a critical time for his growth.

“During the entire quarantine, I didn’t play any video games or really watch any shows,” he said. “All I did was just watch their highlights over and over again every day and then train in my basement and eat a lot so I could work on my body. Just get any tactics and stuff like that. Look at the running moves.. . that’s what I’ve been doing all along. It’s just a dream come true and all the hard work is paying off. And I’m glad I did what I did in quarantine instead of just sitting and watching TV.

Now, at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, Anudike-Uzomah reminds Borgonzi of a Chiefs legend.

“He’s relentless as a pass rusher,” the assistant GM said. “It’s pretty funny. I was watching him in the fall. He’s got number 91 and all I could think about was Tamba because I was here with Tamba. He plays a lot like him.

“He’s relentless, and Tamba was. He just found a way to the linebacker — constantly trying to get off blocks. He’s got a little bit of a slide, too, like Tamba did. But really, just that relentless motor,” Tamba recalled.

WR Rashee Rice

Because of his versatility, the Chiefs had an advantage over Reese. In his final season at SMU, he was at wide receiver 82.5% of the time and 17.3% of the time. That should play well with Reid, who prefers pass catchers who are comfortable lining up everywhere.

Borgonzi noted that Southwest Regional scout Jason Lamb and national scout Jonathan Howard were the first to put Rice on the Chiefs’ radar. Then the entire staff saw him at the Senior Bowl.

“He’s a big kid,” Borgonzi said of the 6-foot-1 Reese. “He’s explosive. One thing he really does is he has a 41-inch vertical leap. This kid is explosive. He’ll go up and get the football, and when he catches the ball, you can see he’s violent. After the catch, he turns into a running back — and that’s a big part of our offense here. We felt very comfortable with him.”

Of his 1,344 receiving yards in 2022, 593 came after the catch, which the Chiefs also enjoyed. Rice said he worked out with quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Texas.

“It was awesome,” Rice said of the experience. “I don’t think you can complain about someone like him. He made me feel like I was one of the best in the world, putting me right where I needed to be.

As expected, Mahomes signed the add-on.

“It’s Patrick Mahomes,” Borgonzi finished. “Everybody’s going to want to go out and work with him. Pat himself will go out on the field and throw the ball to anybody. There’s a lot of players down there – and of course we’re going to. to take Pat’s input.”

OT Vanya Morris

The Chiefs may not have landed a sure-fire Day 1 starter at offensive tackle in this year’s draft, but they really feel Morris is coming off the board. The 6-foot by 5-foot tool has 35 1/8-inch arms.

Although he was most recently a right fielder at Oklahoma, Morris will be the 2019-2020 starter. played left tackle at the University of Tennessee next to a familiar face: offensive guard Trey Smith. Smith played on the left wing (and next to Morris) for the Volunteers during those seasons.

“He’s a big, long, athletic tackle who played right tackle at Oklahoma and he played left tackle at Tennessee when he played next to Trey,” Borgonzi said. “He’s got a lot of tools. … He’s tall, he’s athletic, he’s got the legs. Now he’s got to put it all together — and we feel comfortable with our room here that he’s going to learn from some of these guys.”

Smith, whom Morris considers a kind of big brother, became one of the first to contact him after he became chief.

“I can’t tell you how nice it is to get those accolades from guys you see doing great in the league,” Morris said. “And just so you know I’ll fight him. We’ll pick up where we left off.”

Morris’ development now rests in the hands of offensive line coach Andy Heck, who has helped the likes of Nick Allegretti, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Andrew Wiley progress.

There has been some debate about whether leading free agent signing Jawaan Taylor will move from right tackle to left tackle. For now, at least, the selection of Morris provides no additional clarity.

“I don’t think anything is set in stone at this point,” Borgonzi said. “We’re going to get to OTAs (organized team activities) and Coach Heck is playing these guys all over the place just to see who’s the top five and who fits where. It all depends on Coach Heck and the offensive staff.”

After two Day 2 trades, the Chiefs now have five picks remaining in the NFL draft — a fourth round, a fifth round, two sixth and a seventh rounder.

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