Arizona Cardinals take DL George Karlaftis in Kiper’s 1st NFL mock draft

Jan 20, 2022, 6:39 PM
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)...

It wouldn’t be the offseason without NFL mock drafts.

Not even a week removed from their Wild Card exit, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Arizona Cardinals selecting defensive end George Karlaftis in the opening round of the analyst’s first NFL mock draft of the offseason.

In 12 games played with the Purdue Boilermakers last season, the junior lineman tallied 4.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Karlaftis came in as the 23rd ranked college player in 2021 after posting a pass-rushing grade of 90.6, per Pro Football Focus. He was named to the First Team All-Big Ten for his efforts.

The biggest reasoning behind the addition is the durability of defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who has one year left on his two-year deal.

His injury history means that Arizona needs to think about a replacement. That’s Karlaftis, a powerful 275-pound end who might be better in a 3-4 defense. He had only 4.5 sacks in 2021, but his pressure numbers were elite, even if he didn’t always get home to the quarterback. He’s really good against the run, too.

Kiper believes Arizona’s downfall hung greatly on the absence of Watt from the starting lineup.

When Watt went down with a regular season-ending shoulder injury in a Week 7 win over the Houston Texans, the Cardinals were sitting at the top of the league at 7-0.

Arizona wouldn’t see that same success without Watt on the field, going 4-6 over the next 11 games.

And while Watt returned to action for the team’s Wild Card bout, the defensive lineman’s presence wasn’t enough in a 34-11 beatdown at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is congratulated by tight end Maxx Williams (87) aft...
Arizona Sports

NFL Network’s Frelund leaves Cardinals off list of top NFL offenses

The Arizona Cardinals have not had a top-10 scoring offense since head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray arrived in 2019.
22 hours ago
New Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown answers a question at a news conference at the C...
Tom Kuebel

Arizona Cardinals’ Hollywood Brown could be next in line for big contract

The Cardinals made one of the most surprising moves on draft day by trading out of the first round for receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.
2 days ago
Keaontay Ingram #28 of the USC Trojans runs as he is chased by Ricky Miezan #45 of the Stanford Car...
Arizona Sports’s Reuter: Cardinals’ Ingram among late picks with chance to start

NFL Network draft analyst Chad Reuter placed Cardinals RB Keaontay Ingram on a list of Day 3 picks with a chance to start games in 2022.
2 days ago
J.J. Watt #99 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates in the second quarter against the Houston Texans ...
Arizona Sports

Seven words or less: The Arizona Cardinals’ 2022 schedule

Cardinals Corner co-hosts Tyler Drake and Erik Ruby took a look at each of Arizona's matchups in -- you guessed it -- seven words or less.
3 days ago
James Conner #6 and Byron Murphy #7 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate as they run off the field af...
Arizona Sports

NFL Network’s Rosenthal projects Arizona Cardinals’ 2022 starters

With OTAs next week, NFL Network's Gregg Rosenthal projected the 2022 starters for the Arizona Cardinals with notes about every position.
3 days ago
A.J. Green #18 of the Arizona Cardinals runs after his catch from David Long #22 of the Los Angeles...
Arizona Sports

The Athletic’s Jones: Cardinals-Rams in Week 3 a must-watch game in 2022

Of the Cardinals' 2022 slate, The Athletic's Lindsay Jones believes the Week 3 matchup against the Rams stands out above the rest.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals take DL George Karlaftis in Kiper’s 1st NFL mock draft