Can George Karlaftis fix the Chiefs’ pass rush?

With the 30th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chiefs selected a raw but promising defensive end out of Purdue who can help fix the Chiefs’ pass rush.

George Karlaftis was a surprise pick for the Chiefs, mainly because he wasn’t supposed to be there.  Karlaftis was one of the players who was supposed to be taken in the late teens to early ’20s of the NFL Draft, and when the Chiefs traded up to the 21st pick there were people the Chiefs were going to pick an edge rusher like Karlaftis. Instead, the Chiefs drafted Trent McDuffie a cornerback from The University of Washington. The Chiefs then waited to get their guy at 30, edge rusher George Karlaftis from Purdue University. 

Karlaftis is a unique player for an edge defender, as he isn’t one of the best defensive ends or edge rushers of this draft, but he brings versatility to the position. Karlaftis was asked to do a lot in his three years as a Boilermaker, he was tasked with rushing the passer on the strong side, setting the edge in the run game, and getting as many blockers sent his way.  Karlaftis is one of those defensive linemen who could line up anywhere on the defensive line and do it admirably, which is a good thing for a team like the Chiefs because their defensive coordinator is Steve Spagnuolo. 

Spags is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL when it comes to using players who are versatile, like L’Jarius Sneed who is a great cover corner but can blitz off the edge effectively. Karlaftis is a versatile defensive lineman, he can provide run-stopping capabilities as well as an ability to get the quarterback. Karlaftis was the star end at Purdue so he faced a lot of double and triple-teams from the jump and he was still an outstanding defensive player in college. If he can bring his tenacity to the Chiefs, he’s going to be one of the best rookie defensive ends in the league in 2022. 

How does he impact the game as a pass rusher? Well, he has a relentless motor to get to the quarterback, which will pose a matchup issue if he’s on the side with Chris Jones. Jones should demand a double team and Karlaftis should see this as an opportunity to get pressure on the QB. The Chiefs’ defense was able to get a lot of pressure late in the season last year and those numbers can improve if they can get Karlaftis in a favorable matchup most of the time. Karlaftis also is just a strong guy, he consistently beat offensive tackles in the Big Ten conference, where there were future pros everywhere. My only issue with Karlaftis is his lack of bend when coming off the edge, but most of Spanuolo’s defensive ends have thrived while not having elite bend.

Karlaftis is going to be one to watch for sure, he has all of the tools to turn into a consistent Pro Bowl-caliber player, but he will need some time before that comes to fruition. Expect Karlaftis to get some real good plays early in the season and hopefully he’ll acclimate and make the big plays in December and January.