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George Karlaftis
NFL Draft

Why George Karlaftis Should Be High on Giants’ Draft Board

  • Ryan Fowler
  • February 23, 2022
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A prospect whose name has begun to slide down draft boards—in consideration of his top-10 projection—Purdue’s George Karlaftis is a story yet to be written; he just needs the canvas to paint the full picture. One of the least-sexy edge threats in this year’s class, Karlaftis won’t blow you away with sub-4.6 speed at 260-plus pounds, jump out of the gym in the vert, or turn heads in the broad jump when asked to do so at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine, but if you’re a team in need of an uber-physical prospect whose aggressive style of play and high IQ allows him to turn the edge with consistency, Karlaftis is your guy. After three years of standout play at Purdue following a move from Athens, Greece in eighth grade—when he initially began playing football—Karlaftis remains in the honeymoon phase with the gridiron in comparison to his fellow draft-eligible athletes. While he wasn’t granted the opportunity to compete in the trenches at a young age, where prospects today first put on the pads before they ever learn to tie their shoes, his grace period to learn the intricacies of football from the inside-out allowed little room to finagle his way from position to position. And while the saying goes that it takes nearly 10,000 hours to truly master a craft, the expeditious approach to his learning process and ability to transfer it within the hashes has introduced a prospect with one of the highest performance floors in the entire 2022 class. Double and triple-teamed throughout his time as a Boilermaker, while his sack and intricate analytical numbers won’t jump off the screen in comparison to some of the class's other 5-tech defenders, sometimes the old-fashioned eye test is all you need to sell yourself on a player. For the Giants' case, especially under the newly minted duo of general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, adding a potential game-wrecker in Karlaftis compared to the flashy pick of Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux or Michigan’s David Ojabo could solidify to the New York faithful that the Giants are, finally, doing it the right away. While it’s not a knock on those two highly-rated pass rushers, it’s more about not being afraid to swim upstream when it comes to expending a high draft selection on a player just because national opinion says otherwise. It’s about trusting the process, the fit, the tape, and when it comes to Karlaftis, a player with a similar projection out of West Lafayette a tick over a decade ago presents a mirror of optimism into just how successful he can be on Sunday. Although it’s been an easy comparison to make, and one that has made its way around inner circles for quite some time, Karlaftis’ skill set out of Purdue has mirrored that of former Boilermaker All-American and the Washington Commanders’ franchise leader in sacks, Ryan Kerrigan. Two of the least sexy prospects in their respective classes, neither would go first off the board if you lined up each pool of talent in a t-shirt and shorts, but when you strap up and are forced to block ‘em, good luck. While Kerrigan had less of an athletic profile than Karlaftis, who’s a fluid mover in space, Kerrigan—like Karlaftis—won consistently with refined technique and a game that constantly evolved to win technically instead of relying on physical gifts to get home. It’s not that Kerrigan couldn’t bend and use speed around the edge, but compared to classmates in Von Miller, J.J. Watt, and Robert Quinn—all 2011 selections ahead of Kerrigan—he didn’t match up. It’s similar to this season's crop of talent in Aidan Hutchinson, and the aforementioned Thibodeaux and Ojabo, who each possess their own unique athletic traits, that, when compared to Karlaftis, trump the Bednarik Award finalist… and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  While 95.5 sacks—the amount Kerrigan totaled in D.C.—will prove difficult for Karlaftis to match wherever he lands, plugging him into a Giants line with headlining talent in abundance could see him enjoy immediate success within Wink Martindale’s defense. As a potential 3-4 OLB, he will need work in space, but as a thick defender with prowess in the run and an unrelenting hunger to staple passers to the dirt, think again when you slide Karlaftis down your mock draft.

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Ryan Fowler