NFL Executive Compares Chiefs Rookie to 3-Time Defender of the Year

George Karlaftis

Getty Kansas City Chiefs defensive end George Karlaftis at the 2022 NFL combine.

Rather than thrust him into the starting role in Week 1, the Kansas City Chiefs decided to take some pressure off first-round pass rusher George Karlaftis when they signed veteran Carlos Dunlap on a one-year deal.

It was probably the wise decision long-term, considering Karlaftis’ draft billing as a raw talent that might need some time to develop. He only played two full seasons at Purdue, but the potential was evident to NFL suitors — 14 sacks and 29 tackles for a loss in just 26 games.

Fine-tune that natural ability into a football player and you might hit the jackpot. One NFL executive even compared Karlaftis’ ceiling to a legendary five-time All-Pro and three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

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‘Shades of a Young J.J. Watt’

Padded practices have finally allowed fans and media members to get a good look at Karlaftis, and he has not disappointed.

The Purdue product is a power rusher at heart and a video of him driving 6-foot-6 OT Roderick Johnson into a full-on backpedal at camp sparked a thought from Heavy’s NFL insider Matt Lombardo.

The Chiefs really got a winner in George Karlaftis, and outstanding value,” voiced Lombardo. “Ahead of the NFL Draft, an exec told me he saw shades of a young J.J. Watt in the Purdue product …”

Lombardo also noted the similarities to Watt on draft night, tweeting: “What are the Chiefs getting in George Karlaftis? Had an NFC Personnel executive tell me ‘He reminds me of J.J. Watt, when Watt was coming out. An explosive and versatile playmaker who has a high motor and can line up at 3, 5, or 7. Very strong kid.'”

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Karlaftis’ Work Ethic Fits the Mold

It will be challenging to live up to a comparison like Watt, who is a likely first-ballot Hall of Fame pass rusher and defensive end. Having said that, the youngster’s work ethic does fit the description.

Watt was always known to be a hard worker and Karlaftis appears to live by a similar credo. He and Frank Clark have become quite the pair, spending tons of time together staying late after practice. KC Sports Network has been sharing videos of the two going through drills and fundamentals with one another.

It seems that the youngster is trying to add some new moves to his pass-rushing arsenal, eager to learn in any and every way possible. That’s promising, considering Karlaftis’ greatest concerns are very fixable.

Things like technique, footwork, positioning, and hand placement. He already has the physical attributes and the high motor, as well as the desire.

Plus, with Dunlap joining the fold, that’s just another experienced brain for Karlaftis to pick. The 21-year-old is a sponge right now and the more established veterans around him the better.

That includes defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who is no doubt excited to mold another young disruptor in the making.

If all goes well, Karlaftis will be feasting on quarterbacks next to Chris Jones and his two fellow edge rushers in no time. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll even show shades of a player like Watt.


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