The Kansas City Chiefs were in prime position in the 2022 draft having had two first-round picks (number 21, number 30) and they wisely used them on defense. Cornerback Trent McDuffie had a good rookie season, but there’s high optimism among the team in their other first-rounder: defensive end George Karlaftis. His original scouting report coming from Purdue University was that he had a quick first step, extremely active hands and he handles double teams well. While he roughly played 50% of the defensive snaps for the first quarter of the year, the international standout from Greece quickly gained the trust of coaches and the veterans of Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap and continued to flourish. He finished the 2022 season with six sacks and recorded a sack in the AFC Championship game on the way to appearing in the Super Bowl and becoming a champion. The question is: what can fans and more importantly the team expect from him?
Even if Frank Clark decides to return to Kansas City in 2023, Karlaftis is going to see an increase in playing time and perhaps take over the primary pass rusher spot. Kansas City should expect to see him draw more attention from opposing offenses as they game plan to double-team him. In his final season with Purdue, he could only accumulate four sacks due to the fact that he constantly saw double teams. The only thing holding Karlaftis back is his lack of length against the bigger offensive linemen but he can make it work.
Should Frank Clark not return this year, expect this rotation of defensive ends: rookie Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Charles Omenihu, George Karlaftis, and Michael Danna. As of now, Clark is still a free agent but has not ruled out a return to the Chiefs. The key to success at the edge rusher position is Karlaftis. I expect him to play a huge role next year and not have a “sophomore slump”.
Other 2022 Picks to Keep an Eye On
With the departure of Juju Smith-Schuster, it will more than likely be wide receiver by committee unless DeAndre Hopkins signs with the Chiefs at some point. Marques Valdez-Scantling will more than likely be the number one receiver heading into training camp. After that, I would keep an eye on Skyy Moore, the second round pick in 2022 out of Western Michigan. Moore had a quiet rookie season with 22 catches and 250 yards but I expect his role to increase next season. He’s been extremely productive during off season workouts attending throwing sessions with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and head coach Andy Reid was extremely complimentary of Moore: “I like what I see. He’s getting strong and you can tell he’s worked this off-season”. I think he’s going to play a huge role in the Chiefs offense next year.
Chiefs fans know the story of 7th round pick Isiah Pacheco by now and he will be the number one running back going forward. Pacheco had 170 carries, 830 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 11 starts during the regular season. If he stays healthy, the sky’s the limit for him.