KC Chiefs rookie report: George Karlaftis’s sack streak is impressive
George Karlaftis, Defensive End (Round 1, Pick 30)
One of the players heating up at the right time is rookie defensive end George Karlaftis. He’s racked up 5 sacks over the past 6 games after recording only 0.5 in the first 10. In those 6 games, he’s totaled 14 pressures in 124 pass rush snaps. Although he had the sack of Russell Wilson, he wasn’t super efficient as the sack was his only pressure in 24 pass-rushing opportunities. He was also very good against the run, which has been an issue of his for the entire season, and also ended his three-game streak of missing a tackle. He’s also had five straight games with at least two defensive stops.
Karlaftis hasn’t had the rookie year that many fans expected, but he’s been very good at rushing the quarterback since the bye week. If he can continue to be productive, the Chiefs should be confident when it comes to creating pressure against star quarterbacks, such as Josh Allen and Joe Burrow.
Jaylen Watson, Cornerback (Round 7, Pick 243)
Due to L’Jarius Sneed’s injury, Jaylen Watson saw his snap count climb to 48 against the Broncos, his highest since Week 7. To be perfectly frank, Watson had a bad game against a putrid offense. In 33 coverage snaps, he was targeted five times and allowed five catches for 37 yards and a 97.5 passer rating. He also had a defensive holding penalty called against him early in the second quarter. He was also beaten up in run defense a decent bit.
As a seventh-rounder, Jaylen Watson has already paid enough dividends to make him worth the pick. He was strong against Seattle but has been very up and down since September as a whole. He’ll be relied upon to play well if the Chiefs want to make a Super Bowl run this season.
Trent McDuffie, Cornerback (Round 1, Pick 21)
A legitimate argument can be made that Trent McDuffie was the strongest player on the Chiefs’ defense this past Sunday. He was strong against the run and had a huge forced fumble when he sacked Russell Wilson late in the first half, leading to a blocked Harrison Butker field goal attempt at the buzzer. The play was also his first career sack. In 42 coverage snaps, he was targeted four times, allowing three receptions for 17 yards and 16 yards after the catch. Not his strongest outing but far from his weakest.
As the first pick in a highly anticipated draft class, there was a lot of pressure put on Trent McDuffie to start and play very well. Despite being a tad undersized, he’s been up to the challenge. He’s been solid in coverage and has even been asked to blitz numerous times this season. He will be one of the most important players on the entire team, not just on defense or among rookies, if the Chiefs want to win multiple playoff games en route to a successful Super Bowl run.