It is not a secret the New York Jets need to find ways to improve their 32nd ranked defense.
Could one of those ways include selecting defensive end George Karlaftis out of Purdue?
While that remains to be seen, there is no question the Jets need to improve their pass rush.
Currently the Jets rank 17th in sack percentage (5.75%) and 19th in sacks per game (avg. 2.1).
The Jets defense has given up the most yardage (6,336), the highest average of points per game (29.8) and the most points in the league (467).
All in all, New York’s defense is in shambles and head coach Robert Saleh, who came to the Jets after being the esteemed defensive coordinator of the 49ers, needs to find answers.
Looking back, Saleh’s defense finished in the top 10 only once out of four seasons in San Francisco and when they did in 2019, he had a stellar pass rush led by rookie Nick Bosa.
It appears for Saleh’s (and Jeff Ulbrich’s) defense to have any chance of success, the Jets have to figure out schematically how to generate a lot more heat on the quarterback, or they need to draft disruptive pass rushers.
Enter Karlaftis back into this conversation. Karlaftis trains in the art of hand-to-hand combat and does MMA drills for an hour a day, and it shows. He uses his hands exceptionally well.
However, there are concerns.
Discounting 2020 when he did not play much due to injuries (left leg vs. Illinois) and COVID-19, there has been a statistical drop off between his 2019 and 2021 seasons. Karlaftis posted 54 tackles in 2019 vs. 36 in 2021. Karlaftis’ sack total in 2019 was 7.5 vs. 4.5 in 2021.
To Karlaftis’ defense, he did draw a fair amount of double teams.
Karlaftis pretty much consistently disappears against the run in the four games evaluated. I hate how passive and how little fight he showed against the run.
Ohio State also shut him down as a pass rusher. This leaves me wondering how Karlaftis will do against NFL level competition?
These concerns coupled with a lack of dominant speed off the edge and obvious hip rigidity, that causes him to strike-out in close quarters, drops him out the first-round discussion. I like him at the college level, I just have my doubts how he will translate to the next level against a higher level of competition.
#5 George Karlaftis 6-foot-4, 275 pounds
2021 game film reviewed: Iowa, Oregon State, Notre Dame and Ohio State
Grade: Second-Round 3-4 Outside Linebacker. Drops to a 3rd Round 4-3 LDE.
NFL Projection: 3-4 OLB
Note: Opt-Out Music City Bowl vs. Tennessee
Rigid and stout pass rusher with great hand usage and brute power with above average speed and burst. Flip flopped a lot at Purdue (left and right side) and stood up, and put his hand down in the dirt. Relentless pass rusher who looks to out-hustle and out-technique to bend the edge and win through the back door. Decent, but not dominant football playing speed. Does have enough raw strength to bull-rush and overpower. Does show ability to shoot inside gap and shows good short-area close. Does have a lot of rigidity and lack of hip flexibility that causes him to whiff if he has to adjust at all in the pocket. Has to have it lined up perfectly. Can push the pocket and creates more pressure than sack production. Disappointing against the run. Passive and shows little fight against the run most of the time. Disinterested vs. run. More of an outside contain who was even seen jogging back side too many times on active plays. Once in a blue moon gets a free shot and can crash down in the pile, but he pretty much is a non-factor against the run. One dimensional situational pass-rush type to work against right tackles in the NFL.
Given the huge monetary commitment to starting left defensive end John Franklin-Myers, I can not see Karlaftis fitting the Jets. Franklin-Myers is also a bright spot on this defense with his six sacks to date this season. Karlaftis will more than likely land with a team like Tennessee or Pittsburgh, who runs the 3-4 (three down linemen and four linebackers) and needs more pressure from their outside linebacker spots.
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