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.

Presented By
Western Governors University

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort talks to reporters...

Tyler Drake

Monti Ossenfort keeping trade options open as Cardinals’ draft board nears completion

The Arizona Cardinals have about 95% of their draft board completed about a week out from the NFL Draft and continue to look at all avenues.

18 hours ago

Monti Ossenfort looks on during the 2023 NFL Draft Combine...

Tyler Drake

Daniel Jeremiah: NFL Draft is Cardinals’ moment to set up franchise for years to come

The 2024 NFL Draft marks a big set-your-franchise-up situation for the Arizona Cardinals, says NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.

22 hours ago

Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill speaks at a press conference...

Tyler Drake

Michael Bidwill: Cardinals ‘aligned on getting this thing right’ in 2024

Michael Bidwill believes the Cardinals aren't that far off from really turning things around under Jonathan Gannon and Monti Ossenfort.

2 days ago

Marvin Harrison Jr....

Nick Borgia

Marvin Harrison Jr. remains Cardinals top pick in latest ESPN mock

With the 2024 NFL draft just around the corner, ESPN's latest mock draft details what could be in store for the Cardinals' first six picks.

3 days ago

Rome Odunze...

Kevin Zimmerman

Peter Schrager’s NFL mock draft has a surprising Cardinals trade-down with Giants

Peter Schrager believes the New York Giants could trade with the Arizona Cardinals, who move down to the No. 6 pick to select Rome Odunze.

3 days ago

Trey McBride works out...

Tyler Drake

Tweaked process, same message: Cardinals begin strength and conditioning program

Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon isn't the biggest believer in picking up where you left off, especially on a year-to-year basis.

4 days ago

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