Purdue EDGE George Karlaftis is something of a polarizing figure in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Karlaftis is an explosive, powerful pass rusher who attacks the game with uncommon violence. However, he lacks ideal measurables and doesn’t have quite the same kind of versatility as some longer, “bendier” pass rushers.
In all likelihood, Karlaftis won’t appeal to every team, and he might need to find the right scheme fit in order to thrive at the NFL level. But his edgy, violent play has certainly earned him plenty of fans who don’t particularly care about his arm length.
New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is known for his aggressiveness and for getting the most from unheralded pass rushers. Just how good of an option is Karlaftis for the Giants?
Games Played: 26
Tackles For a loss: 29.0
Forced Fumbles: 3
Passes Defensed: 6
Games Played: 12
Tackles For a loss: 10.0
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes Defensed: 4
Best: Explosiveness, leverage, play strength, hand usage, competitive toughness
Worst: Lower body stiffness, space play
Projection: A starting edge defender with scheme diversity.
(Karlaftis is Purdue EDGE number 5)
Purdue’s George Karlaftis is an explosive, violent, and disruptive EDGE prospect.
Karlaftis almost always aligned as an edge defender in Purdue’s defense. He played both the left and right ends of the defensive line and played out of both two and three-point stances. Karlaftis pretty much always played the role of “defensive end”, whether he was a stand-up rusher or a down lineman.
Karlaftis has a stout, powerful frame with good thickness in his upper body and plenty of explosive power in his lower body. He generally keys the ball well, timing and reacting quickly to the snap. That timing and his lower-body explosiveness gives Karlaftis a very impressive first step. He routinely fires off the ball hard, accelerating into the backfield with good initial leverage.
Explosiveness forms the basis for Karlaftis’ whole game. He features an effective bullrush and a good ability to convert speed into power at the point of attack. He is also a capable hand fighter with a solid arsenal of quick, violent pass rush moves. Karlaftis uses a swim move as his go-to counter for his power, but he also flashes chop, club, rip, and swipe moves. He does a good job of targeting blockers’ hands, allowing him to work past them quickly and gain access to the backfield.
He has solid quickness and agility considering his build, which allows him to execute inside moves, take part in tackle-end stunts, and even use the occasional spin move.
Karlaftis manages to balance his aggression with solid discipline as a defender. He is very aggressive, but never crosses the line into playing out of control. Likewise, he never freelances and is faithful to his assignments as a run defender.
Karlaftis’ play strength and leverage allow him to set a firm edge as a run defender. He is often too much for tight ends to block and can stand up to offensive tackle blocks in one-on-one situations. He is able to use his hands to disengage from linemen and has the quickness to make plays on ball carriers off of blockers.
Karlaftis has great competitive toughness and plays hard all game long. He gives full effort on all downs and distances, regardless of the game situation. Likewise, he consistently pursues across (or down) the field and through the echo of the whistle.
While Karlaftis is an explosive pass rusher with solid quickness for a player with his build, he does show some stiffness in his lower body. In particular, he seems to have relatively limited ankle mobility. That seems to force him onto his toes as he bends the corner, limiting his contact area with the turf. Not only does that limit his ability to lower his center of gravity and bend a tight corner, but Karlaftis can also struggle with balance when rushing with speed around the edge. He can be very susceptible to losing his footing as he bends the edge.
Karlaftis does have a tendency to “stay blocked” if his initial pass rush move fails. He can get hung up on blocks if offensive linemen are able to absorb his initial rush or win the opening hand battle and gain leverage on him.
Karlaftis’ aggressiveness can also get him in trouble at times. He can bite too hard on misdirection, occasionally running himself out of plays. In particular, Karlaftis can be fooled – or take a beat to diagnose – play-action or read-option plays. In those instances, some issues with change of direction or balance can be exposed, making Karlaftis a bit slow to get into pursuit.
Overall Grade: 7.8
George Karlaftis projects as a starting EDGE at the NFL level. He has the versatility to play in a defense that’s based in 4-3 principles or an aggressive “multiple” defense. Karlaftis is an aggressive, violent rusher and will do best in a defense that plays to those strengths.
Defenses that frequently ask their EDGE defenders or outside linebackers to drop into coverage should probably look elsewhere. However, he will almost certainly hold an appeal for defensive coordinators who are looking for powerful EDGE defenders who can walk linemen back, overwhelm tight ends, and set a firm edge in the run game.
There is little finesse in Karlaftis’ game and that can limit him when he needs to win a chess match or quickly win with counter moves. His game is built on explosiveness, power, and momentum – which also gives his play an edge that few pass rushers match. Karlaftis might not be for every defense, but he has the potential to thrive in the right situation.