Kansas City Chiefs pick George Karlaftis 30th overall to reignite pass rush

Purdue’s George Karlaftis is the newest Kansas City Chief, taken with the 30th overall pick in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.

And, already, he’s getting adulation from coach Andy Reid.

“You’re going to love him, he’s high octane,” Reid said about the first-team All-Big Ten honoree, also referring to him as the “Greek Freak.”

Karlaftis is the first edge rusher the Chiefs have drafted in the first two rounds since Breeland Speaks in 2018, and he’s the first one they’ve taken in the first round since Dee Ford in 2014.

After making just two first-round picks in the last six years combined, Karlaftis was the Chiefs’ second of the night on Thursday. He joins Washington’s Trent McDuffie, who the Chiefs traded up to select.

In 26 career games at Purdue, Karlaftis recorded 97 total tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. His career high in sacks came as a freshman in 2019 when he had 7.5, and he tallied 4.5 in 2021.

While his collegiate production doesn’t jump off the page, his NFL traits do, with Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network saying Karlaftis “might be the best power rusher in this year’s class.” He’s also a natural fit for Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive scheme, specifically in terms of the Chiefs’ base defensive front. Like he will in Kansas City, Karlaftis played end in a four-man front at Purdue.

“He is a relentless motor, he is fun to watch,” Reid said.

Athletically, Karlaftis and McDuffie are similar, at least in terms of public data. Both Kansas City first-round picks have Relative Athletic Scores over 9, signifying a “Elite” athleticism.

Day 1 is over but the Chiefs still have plenty to look forward to on Day 2 of the NFL draft, with three more picks scheduled at Nos. 50, 62 and 103 overall. Kansas City traded its other third-round pick, No. 94 overall, to the New England Patriots in order to trade up for McDuffie.