Chiefs DE George Karlaftis one away from 10-sack milestone

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs have a gem in defensive end George Karlaftis.

The 22-year-old has 15 sacks in his first 31 regular season games and is one sack away from hitting 10 sacks in just his second year in the NFL.

Karlaftis said that double-digit sacks are always something that any pass rusher aspires to achieve. But he credits his teammates and DL coach Joe Cullen for his improved numbers this season.

“Those guys really help me,” he said Friday.

Star defensive tackle Chris Jones is the center of the versatile Chiefs defense that sees Karlaftis play on the interior on passing downs and rushing off the edge.

“He creates so much penetration when you know how to play off of each other then good things usually happen,” Karlaftis said.

The Purdue product is tied for fifth most sacks in a player’s first two seasons in franchise history. With a half sack, he can pass Art Still (15.0) for sole possession of fifth most and with one more, he can pass Justin Houston and Tamba Hali (15.5) for third-most across a player’s first two seasons in franchise history.

Karlaftis was the Chiefs’ last first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft after the Chiefs traded up for cornerback Trent McDuffie who has been on a meteoric rise as one of the best corners in the NFL.

“Young, relentless, dedicated to his craft,” general manager Brett Veach said on draft night after picking McDuffie and Karlaftis.

“All the people that we spoke to at Purdue just said all of his best football is in front of him. He had a water polo background, being born in Athens (Greece), getting to come over here with a late start to football, he picked it up quick. “

“One thing that is common in everyone that you talk to about George is his approach to the game and how important it is to him,” Veach continued. “I certainly think (Defensive line) Coach (Joe) Cullen and (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Steve Spagnuolo) ‘Spags’ are going to be able to take him to the next level.”

“He’s a guy that can play all along the line. His approach, the way he prepares week‐in and week‐out and his upside were just something that we thought it was good value there (at pick No. 30).”

Jones also gave some interesting tidbits about Karlaftis on Thursday when he told the media that the former Academic All-Big 10 member got a 32 on his ACT score in high school.

Jones even gifted Karlaftis with a certificate for his achievement in the spirit of Christmas.