As we await training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs, we are using Arrowhead Pride’s “Out of Structure” podcast to answer your questions via Twitter or E-mail. Look out for the mailbag prompt on Twitter for your chance to ask a question for the next episode, or E-mail APOutOfStructure@gmail.com to submit.
One of the questions on this week’s episode was simply put:
Who will have a more significant impact this year? Frank Clark or George Karlaftis?
We took a closer look at which defensive end projects to be the more impactful player to team success in 2022:
Matt: This shouldn’t even be a question. Frank Clark was supposed to be a defensive player of the year candidate, a premier defensive end that was worth a big trade and contract. I’ve also been saying that we have to keep expectations low for Karlaftis based on what we saw from him in 2021. He looks like a solid-but-not-spectacular player. So, it should be Clark with the bigger impact, but unless we can make the case that last year was a fluke, and he’s due for a bounce-back season, this question is a toss-up.
The case for Karlaftis
Ron: The key word is impact. Clark was on the field as much as any Chiefs defensive lineman when healthy last year but didn’t exactly fill up the box score with impact plays. In 17 regular and postseason games, these were his totals:
- 4.5 sacks
- Four tackles for loss
- Two force fumbles
- 19 solo tackles
- Zero batted passes
Players like Jarran Reed and Derrick Nnadi played fewer snaps but had 30 or more tackles, according to PFF. One of Clark’s forced fumbles came on a broken play by the Dallas Cowboys. The zero batted passes may not seem noteworthy, but getting your hands into the passing lane takes reasonable effort, so not earning one could imply a lack thereof.
Karlaftis could make a bigger impact on the game by simply having a higher motor and giving more relentless effort. He may be more volatile than Clark’s consistent presence on the edge, but the upside of those times can lead to more high-impact plays by the end of the year.
The trajectory of Clark’s career
Matt: It’s one of the only Chiefs’ players whose career is on a downwards trajectory at this point. It’s pretty safe to assume they would have moved on from him this offseason, but the contract restructure meant that the difference between cutting and keeping Clark was less than $2 million. Even at this stage of his career, you can’t really find a replacement player for that cost. Head coach Andy Reid explicitly said that Clark needs to be better this year than last year, which is notable given how Reid never publicly calls players out.
The bottom line
Ron: While Clark might be the more fundamentally-sound player, I envision Karlaftis making a greater impact in terms of significant plays.
Matt: I’d love to make a case for Clark having a bounce-back year, but it’s pretty tough to find logical reasons why it could happen.
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