The 2022 NFL Draft is fast approaching and the Greek pass rusher from Purdue, George Karlaftis, is expecting to hear his name called on the first day of festivities. Find out why in this draft profile.
Height – 6’4”
Weight – 266 Pounds
DOB – April 3, 2001 (21 years old)
School – Purdue
Position – Defensive Lineman
Arm Length – 32 5/8”
Hand Size – 10 1/4”
Wingspan – 78 7/8”
40-Yard Dash – 4.71 Seconds (@ Pro-Day)
Vertical Jump – 38”
Broad Jump – 121”
Bench Press – 21 Reps
George Karlaftis has had quite the journey to the 2022 NFL Draft. It all started back in 2001 when he was born in Athens, Greece. Following a tragic, fatal heart attack, Karlaftis lost his father. In 2014, his mother moved them all back to West Lafayette, Indiana, where she had spent all of her childhood. The move was surely jarring for the entire family, but Karlaftis found peace in sports.
Karlaftis starred for both the football team and the track and field team at West Lafayette High School. He won state titles in both sports, earning two of them for the track and field team in shot put and another one as the leader on the gridiron. His success leading the football team to new heights as a star pass rusher began placing him on the radar of every major college. Perhaps my favorite tidbit, however, is that George was a member of the Greek Water Polo National Team, at the ripe age of 13.
After word spread of the Greece-native, droves of FBS offers came flying in for the four-star pass rusher. The likes of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame exhausted every avenue during recruitment. It was all for naught though, as Karlaftis was determined to stay home in West Lafayette and make a name for himself as a Purdue Boilermaker.
Make a name for himself, he did. As a true freshman he started 12 games and produced immediately by turning in an impressive stat line of 17.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. The 2020 COVID-shortened season was mostly a wash but Karlaftis still brought down the quarterback twice in as many games. In 2021, Karlaftis began seeing constant double and triple-teams. This caused a slight dip in production, but the 4.5 sacks still tied for the team lead, even amid all the extra attention.
Karlaftis is an early entry, so he was not eligible for the Senior Bowl. He also chose not to run his 40-yard dash at the Combine, instead choosing to do so at his Pro Day where he recorded an unofficial time of 4.71 seconds. If you factor that into the workouts he did do in Indianapolis, it creates one of the best athletic profiles in the upcoming draft. Now that we know what it took for Karlaftis to get to this point, let’s highlight his best traits and a few that he must improve.
2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Athleticism – Karlaftis looks like a Greek God at times, especially when he works out. He was one of the best at shot put in the entire country, and the same can be said about his prowess on the football field. The unofficial 4.71 40-yard dash at his Pro Day is phenomenal when you include his jumps and bench press efforts at the Combine. Karlaftis is an athlete that doesn’t come around often.
Strength – As I touched on a moment ago, Karlaftis put up 21 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine. This may be underwhelming to some, but it showed me all I needed to see when you include the strength he put on display at Purdue. The strength in his hands is used to easily gain leverage on opposing offensive tackles, creating space not only for Karlaftis to rush the passer, but his teammates as well.
Motor – This may come from the fact he was a water polo star in Greece, but the endurance that Karlaftis possesses is unparalleled by most human beings that walk this Earth. That motor followed him to the football field, resulting in a player that NEVER quits before the whistle. This type of mentality will win over not only coaches and fans, but the entire locker room. Karlaftis’ will to win has never been in question.
Pass Rush Moves – Even without a long history of playing the sport, Karlaftis picked up a number of different pass rushing moves during his high school career. He brought that proficiency with him to Purdue, which led to spectacular results. Karlaftis recorded 29 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in only 26 games for the Boilermakers. He consistently created havoc by mixing in an unexpected array of finesse moves with the overbearing power that is known as his bread and butter.
Bend – This negative is mostly due to a lack of experience and the fact that Karlaftis regularly beat offensive tackles even without proper technique. He does not always bend around the edge the way you’d expect, but a lot of the reasoning for coming in high off the snap is because he could rely on his ability to “out-talent” opponents on the collegiate level. He must become more consistent in this regard or NFL players will take advantage of his occasional sloppiness.
Run Support – Karlaftis isn’t terrible in the run game, but too often it feels like he tries too hard. That may sound weird, but there are a number of examples of him taking his own guys out of the play. Whether it be with terrible angles, or due to Karlaftis’ ambitions to always pursue a tackle, it all ends the same way: not good. It would go a long way if Karlaftis would simply just worry about his assignments and not try to be the hero on every down.
Secondary Pass Rush Moves – Karlaftis does well creating space as a pass rusher. There are some examples of his first efforts being rebuffed though, and when that happens, he can be taken out of the play entirely. It’s not a constant issue that arises on tape, but it happens enough that it’s worth mentioning. When he gets stunted on his first try, he must continue to fight and mix in a secondary move if possible. A good defensive coordinator at the NFL level should be able to help with this.
George Karlaftis has traveled many miles and suffered a great deal of heart break to get to this point. He worked hard at every sport he ever picked up, leading to state championships in both shot put and football. Karlaftis continued to level up upon arriving on campus at Purdue. He became a star early on as a freshman, and improved each season even with more and more attention coming his way. Now, he sits as one of the best edge rushers in the 2022 NFL Draft. Depending on who you ask, he could either go top-ten or more towards the end of round one. For me, my grade falls in between the two extremes. I wouldn’t bat an eye if Karlaftis goes within the first ten selections, but the 13-20 range feels like a sweet spot.