2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: George Karlaftis
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: In 2019, Karlaftis was one of the best defensive ends in the Big Ten and among the best freshman players in the nation, regardless of position. He was all over the field for the Boilermakers, racking up 54 tackles, 17 tackle for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one interception and recovered two fumbles. In 2020, Karlaftis only played in three games because of injury and COVID-19. He still recorded two sacks and four tackles for his year. In 2021, Karlaftis saw extra attention from offenses, but the junior still played well enough to totaled 36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two passes broken up and two forced fumbles.
Karlaftis presence immediately jumps out on Purdue tape because he is always around the ball. He displays an excellent motor and gives relentless effort. Karlaftis makes a second effort in the pass rush, flows to the ball in the ground game, and will hustle downfield to get in on tackles in the secondary after completions. He has the look of a pure football player.
Against the pass, Karlaftis shows some natural ability in terms of putting heat on the quarterback. With active hands and some functional strength, Karlaftis does a nice job of shedding blocks to get free to the signal-caller. Karlaftis displays an impressive arm-over move that he uses to disengage offensive tackles, and once he gets loose Karlaftis has a burst to close. The active hands are able to be used in accordance with his feet, and that skill makes it difficult for offensive tackles to sustain blocks on Karlaftis. Karlaftis also has the size, functional strength, and athleticism to slide to the inside and rush as a tackle in the sub package. To get the better of pro offensive tackles, Karlaftis should continuing to add to and refine his pass-rushing moves.
Karlaftis is an odd and interesting prospect in that while he has strength to shed blocks as a pass rusher, that doesn't translate to the ground game. It was peculiar to some NFL sources, but Karlaftis needs to get stronger for the next level becauuse he can get moved around and pushed out of his gap. Karlaftis makes an effort to flow to the ball, but holding his ground against bigger offensive tackles is going to be an issue. His run defense has room for improvement.
For the 2022 NFL Draft, Karlaftis looks like a first-round pick. He could easily end up as a top-20 selection.
Player Comparison: Trey Hendrickson. Karlaftis reminds me of Hendrickson as a pass rusher. Hendrickson (6-4, 270) and Karlaftis are almost identical in size, and run-defense issues caused Hendrickson to slide to the third round before the Saints wisely drafted him. In the NFL, I could see Karlaftis being a defensive end similar to Hendrickson.
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