The Falcons had the worst pass rush unit in the NFL this season, notching a league-low 18 sacks. There were multiple players — T.J. Watt and Robert Quinn — had more individual sacks than Atlanta had as a team. It really isn’t a secret the Falcons need an infusion of talent along their defensive front.
In Sam Monson’s latest mock draft for Pro Football Focus, he has the Falcons addressing this weakness by selected edge defender George Karlaftis out of Purdue. Here’s what he had to say about the selection:
“Atlanta was in the playoff hunt until late in the season, but its roster is a 53-man group that badly needs upgrades across the board. Karlaftis is an ultra-durable, big-bodied defensive lineman who has some real versatility to upgrade a defensive line that has been Grady Jarrett and little else for too long. He generated at least 50 pressures in each of his two full seasons of play.”
Karlaftis only totaled 4.5 sacks during his final season with the Boilermakers, but the physical tools are there for him to turn into a productive pass rusher in this league.
Karlafits has the explosive first step and bend to get around tackles, but he isn’t always consistent in that attack. Where he is most valuable is rushing the passer from the interior, where he can beat guards with a range of moves.
In a Dean Pees defense, an edge defender with that kind of flexibility is valuable. Like how the Packers used Za’Darius Smith, the Falcons could get the most out of Karlaftis by letting him go against slower, less athletic guards.
There is no doubt the Falcons need help pressuring opposing quarterbacks, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Atlanta passed on this group of EDGEs because another prospect is graded higher.