One of the biggest reasons the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t reach the Super Bowl last season was their lack of a consistent pass rush.

The Chiefs’ inability to consistently get after the quarterback showed up in a big way in Kansas City’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 19 times during the playoffs. The Chiefs, however, only managed to sack Burrow once.

That’s obviously not a recipe for success — especially against a team like Cincinnati that didn’t have a good offensive line.

Surprisingly, the Chiefs didn’t make adding an edge rusher in free agency a priority. They restructured Frank Clark’s contract, instead of releasing the veteran pass rusher. Kansas City also let Melvin Ingram walk in free agency (he signed a deal with the Miami Dolphins).

The biggest move the Chiefs made during the offseason to improve their pass rush was drafting Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Chiefs
Apr 28, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis after being selected as the thirtieth overall pick to the Kansas City Chiefs during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft at the NFL Draft Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Counting on a rookie to solve pass-rushing issues probably isn’t a wise idea by the Chiefs. But the good news is that ESPN’s Mike Clay is expecting a solid rookie season for the Greece native.

Clay projected the top NFL rookie leaders at each position in 2022 and he thinks Karlaftis will be one of the best rookie pass rushers in the league.

The ESPN writer thinks Karlaftis will finish his rookie season with around 6.5 sacks, which is in line with what some other prominent pass rushers totaled as rookies (JJ Watt had 5.5 sacks as a rookie, while TJ Watt had 7.0 sacks as a rookie).

Clay, who projected that No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker will have around 7.5 sacks as a rookie, noted that Karalftis has a “path to starting” in Kansas City alongside Clark.

Karlaftis never had more than 7.5 sacks at Purdue, but the potential is there for the former Boilermaker to make a big impact in the NFL. He’s still relatively raw as a football player (he didn’t start playing the sport until 8th grade and he only played 26 games in college), but he plays with high energy and has explosive movements.

The Chiefs are banking on Karlaftis being a top-tier pass rusher in the NFL. It’s a gamble, but it’s one that could pay off in a big way.

Featured image via Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports