Ht – 6’3” Wt – 266lb Class – JR Age – 21
2021 Stats – 39 tackles, 10 TFL, 4.5 Sacks, 2 FF, 4 PD (12 Games Played)
Career Stats – 97 tackles, 29 TFL, 14 Sacks, 3 FF, 6 PD (26 Games Played)
Versatility – Was used all along the DL but is strictly a hands-in-the-dirt player. His size, speed, and reactionary quickness will inhibit him from being an OLB or dropping into coverage.
Hand Counters – Hand fighting is the source of all his success. He trained in MMA to improve his hand moves, and he excels at it. Consistently used fierce hand blows to bull rush right through defenders.
Bend – Karlaftis severely lacks bend. He often took very wide angles to the QB, and his change of direction ability looked lackluster.
Power – He plays with a lot of power, but it’s possible most of that comes more from his tenacity rather than his actual pure strength. He bull-rushed multiple opponents with ease, with a combination of power and hand fighting.
Pass-Rush Moves – Has a surprisingly small array of moves for someone who studied MMA. His moves are mostly limited to outside bounces (too wide), inside counters (not quick or shifty enough), and swim moves (effective but barely deployed). Sustained blocks cause him issues, as he mostly relies on his explosion off the line of scrimmage and his initial move, rather than having an extended plan of attack.
Quickness – More of a big and clunky defender rather than a smooth and quick athlete. He doesn’t react quickly or accelerate fast enough, his lone burst comes when he explodes off the line of scrimmage.
Technique – Not much of a technician. He is very sound and makes few mistakes, but he doesn’t rush the passer as a tactician, more like a brute and a bully.
Play Recognition – Has a phenomenal nose for the football, he seems to always be in the right place at the right time. He always moves his blocks and performs his moves towards where the football is or will be.
Tackling and Pursuit – Very poor tackler. He doesn’t have the quickness or suddenness to stop ball carriers with even the slightest amount of elusiveness. To make matters worse, he tends to over-pursue, which makes tackling even harder. This is a massive area of concern and really hurts his run support (unless the ball carrier is still patiently finding a hole).
Motor – Fierce and nasty, NEVER stops running. Plays at 120 percent energy on every play, unlike any other defender I’ve ever seen. It looks almost as if every play is his last.
Combine – The one concern about Karlaftis was his change-of-direction, and his 3-Cone drill was one of the most anticipated events in this entire EDGE class. Despite that, he chose not to run that drill. That brings up a few red flags, as he might’ve chosen not to run it due to poor preliminary testing. He also came in lighter than expected, and he didn’t put up elite numbers in the power drills as we expected. His stock definitely took a big hit.
George Karlaftis is highly regarded as one of the top edge rushers in this class. He has insane burst and energy on every play, which is a quality most coaches love to see.
On the other hand, I believe he has way too many flaws to be a consistent disruptor in the NFL. His poor tackling, severe lack of quickness, athleticism, lack of a large array of pass rush moves, and true power will greatly inhibit his ability to produce. That may likely be the reason he didn’t produce much in college either.
Most of the hype comes from his likeness to the legendary JJ Watt, but I think he’s more similar to AJ Epenesa. JJ Watt had insane bend and quick reactionary athleticism, unlike Epenesa and Karlaftis.
A great NFL coach could use his great motor to get a great rotation player, but I doubt he’ll ever be more than a quality starter.
See George Karlaftis’s overall ranking among other players on my Big Board.