Over the past couple of seasons in Kansas City, the reliable pass rush has started and ended with Chris Jones. Frank Clark has his moments and appears to be healthy and in good shape this season, but I think we know he isn’t going to be the reliable pass rusher we hoped for when KC brought him in. Two years ago Tanoh Kpassagnon and Alex Okafor combined for 4 sacks across from Clark and last season Okafor and Melvin Ingram combined for just 2.5 sacks. Let’s call it like it is, the Chiefs’ outside pass rush has been flat-out bad for a couple of years now.
This is where George Karlaftis could make a huge difference for the Chiefs. I’m not talking about Karlaftis being an All-Pro pass rusher that puts up 15+ sacks. I’m just talking about him being a solid pass rusher that can put up 8-10 sacks as a rookie. The exciting part is that so far through training camp and the preseason Karlaftis looks like a guy that could end up being even better in the NFL than he was in college. He seems to be a sponge for coaching and his non-stop motor and physicality look like they will transfer over well to the NFL level.
If Karlaftis proves to be a Tamba Hali-type player it would be a massive win for the Chiefs. Hali averaged 9.2 sacks per season over his first 8 seasons in KC. If you adjusted that number for 17-game seasons it would be 9.8 sacks/season. If Karlaftis can put up those types of sack totals it would be a huge boost to the defense and based on what we’ve seen in the preseason that doesn’t seem that unrealistic.
If you were to pair a player of that caliber with Chris Jones and then could get just solid play out of Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap it could make for the best pass rush we’ve seen in KC for a while. When you are talking about a team that scores points with an Andy Reid/Patrick Mahomes offense, having a defense that can pressure the opposing quarterback that is trying to keep pace is huge.
I don’t want to set the bar too high for George Karlaftis this season, but I’m excited by what we’ve seen so far. If he can continue on that path he could definitely give the Chiefs a big boost this season and make them that much harder to beat.
Next up is a pass catcher who could produce big numbers in this offense.