George Karlaftis is enjoying strong second season for KC Chiefs

The second-year defensive end is still younger than many prospects entering the league.

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Two years into his NFL career, George Karlaftis has built an impressive body of work with the Kansas City Chiefs. In two full seasons, he's proven to be a reliable performer up front who remains productive despite being thrown straight into the fire as a rookie. And now at the close of his second season, he's already a cornerstone for this Chiefs defense.

Karlaftis has played all 16 games so far for the Chiefs this season with starts in every one. He's proven capable of setting the edge and he's built upon the foundation he laid last season with a late-campaign surge that saw him acquire the majority of his sacks down the stretch.

For a Chiefs team that's transitioned from the days of Frank Clark and company to a younger line to carry the torch behind Chris Jones as the veteran leader, Karlaftis is an important cornerstone upon which Steve Spagnuolo can build his defensive schemes.

What's even more amazing at this point is that Karlaftis is only 22.

The second-year defensive end is still younger than many prospects entering the league.

Right now, Karlaftis is only 22 years old and won't turn 23 until around the time a new rookie class is drafted by the Chiefs. For the sake of perspective, the draft's top edge-rushing prospect—UCLA's Laiatu Latu—is already older than Karlaftis. The same can also be said of another first-round projected prospect in Jared Verse of Florida State.

Last season, Karlaftis had 21 quarterback pressures and 6 sacks in 17 games as the Chiefs asked him to play 64 percent of all defensive snaps. This year, he's been tasked with more—75 percent—and he's responded by staying just as productive as ever while adding to his pass-rush techniques.

The results of Karlaftis's hard work could be seen on Sunday in an important win over the Cincinnati Bengals in which he had 1.5 sacks in the fourth quarter, both on an important drive that stopped Cincy from being able to match the Chiefs' momentum.

At a recent press conference, Chiefs defensive line coach Joe Cullen spoke highly of Karlaftis to reporters and the fact that he recently eclipsed the 10-sack mark for the season.

"He's had a great year and he really works hard," said Cullen. "That's a milestone and sometimes you might not get that but you might have had a better year, but George has really worked hard. He was relentless and those came at a big time. The flurry of those sacks at the end, Coach Spags made some great calls, put those guys in position, and those guys were relentless in getting after the quarterback."

With one game to play, Karlafitis might sit in Week 18 with several other starters, but he could also add a bit more production to a season in which he's already hit 35 pressures and 10.5 sacks. With so much room to still grow as a player, the Chiefs should expect his ceiling to continue to rise with each season of his rookie deal.