George Karlaftis is a big reason why Jeff Brohm's club has become the #Spoilermakers.
Purdue smoked then-ranked No. 2 Iowa, 24-7, in October and just last week handled then-ranked No. 3 Michigan State, 40-29.
Karlaftis was the No. 4 strong-side defensive end in the country in the class of 2019, per 247 Sports. He grew up in Purdue's backyard, playing his high school ball at West Lafayette High School, which is a stone's throw from Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium.
And he's bound to be picked inside the top half of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, which would make him the highest-drafted Boilermaker since Rod Woodson in 1987.
Karlaftis' film is pass-rusher nirvana. The dude legitimately looks like an NFL defensive end today, yet he plays with the hustle, tenacity and attention to detail of an undersized rusher from a lesser conference.
Karlaftis gets after the quarterback with advancement well beyond his years. Oh, and speaking of age, Karlaftis is only 20. He'll turn 21 a few weeks before the 2022 draft.
This is not just a freaky specimen who will be picked solely based on upside. Far from. Karlaftis had 7.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss as a true freshman in 2019 before he could legally drink in Canada.
Now, let's get to the film. I'll start with two plays that clearly showcase his supreme athletic gifts, because they are what first make you sit up in your chair when watching him.
Here, against Oregon State, Karlaftis is the unblocked end on this trick play, and my goodness, check his explosion to the football.
Looks like a bull shot out of a cannon to disrupt that trickeration. For a more refined rush that actually features him beating a blocker, I turn to the Iowa film, when again he exploded upfield, but this time, he tightly wrapped the corner for the big hit on the quarterback.
And bend is something you're born with. You either have it or you don't.
Heck, even if Purdue is fudging Karlaftis' 275-pound listed weight by five or 10 pounds, you don't see many 260-plus pound college defensive ends bend the edge like Karlaftis did there.
And for proof it wasn't a fluke, against Notre Dame earlier this season, Karlaftis flattened to the quarterback and sprinkled in a little dip around the right tackle.
Sure, the right tackle tried to quick-set Karlaftis -- that's when an offensive lineman jumps into a defensive lineman to aggressively initiate contact instead of dropping back -- but the Purdue star's first step is too fast to even be negated by a quick-set. That's impressive in an of itself.
And that first step can be converted to immense power. Ask that Iowa right tackle.
It's not every day you see an edge rusher drive an offensive tackle past the quarterback on a bull-rush attempt. Serious power there from Karlaftis. How about on a run play, against Oregon State, where Karlaftis demonstrated how many gaps he can destroy while engaged with a tight end.
Disclaimer: do not attempt to block Karlaftis with a tight end. I love how on that play Karlaftis finished his bench press with one arm, disengaged from the block as the ball carrier arrived, and made the impact tackle.
One more play -- a sign of Karlaftis' hand work. On the edge against the Beavers, he used a nasty arm-over to provide himself a free run at the quarterback.
And for you analytics lovers out there, here's a look at Karlaftis pressure-creation rates by the season while at Purdue.
This season he's shown the growth that wasn't there in 2020 after a dazzling freshman year.
|George Karlaftis||Pressure-Creation Rate|
Freshman season, 2019
Sophomore season, 2020
|Junior season, 2020||18.1%|
Karlaftis only played in three games in 2020, and, of course it was a strange season altogether, so I'm not holding the lack of a jump from Year 1 to Year 2 against him.
The 18.1% pressure rate this year is a colossal figure, especially considering he's already rushed the passer 221 times. For context, Chase Young's rate was 17.7% on 305 pass-rush snaps in his final season at Ohio State.
Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux is still the most likely No. 1 overall pick in April's draft. And while Karlaftis isn't quite as explosive or bendy as the Ducks superstar, he has a more NFL-ready body, is more powerful, and is more effective with his hands.
He's destined for the top half of the first round and feels like a player bound to be an All-Pro at some point in his NFL career.
Karlaftis is what every prospect wants to be -- high floor with high upside.