There are nine games in the books — with eight more to go. The Kansas City Chiefs are taking their bye week in Week 10, so it’s a good time to dish out some midseason awards.
The Arrowhead Pride writing staff members each had one vote for our seven midseason awards. There are 17 contributors voting, so there will be 17 votes tallied for each award. In this post, we’ll reveal our most improved player to this point of the season.
DE GEORGE KARLAFTIS
VOTING: DE George Karlaftis (6), DE Mike Danna (5), LB Leo Chenal (3), S Justin Reid (2), LB Willie Gay Jr. (1)
It was a strong pool of candidates for this award; the Chiefs’ defense features many ascending players. However, the growth of defensive end George Karlaftis from his rookie year to now has been substantial.
Karlaftis leads the team in sacks (6), matching his season total from 2022 in nine games. He is currently tied for fifth in the NFL in pressures, per Pro Football Focus. He has generated this production by being much quicker off the ball, more flexible, bending around the edge, and faster to his counter move. He has been the team’s best edge rusher but has also moved inside on passing downs and produced there.
On run downs, Karlaftis is stout, firing out to engage blocks with strong hands and rarely getting moved off his spot. That wasn’t the case in his rookie year: he was still adjusting to the strength of the NFL, but he has caught up this season. On top of being strong at the point of attack, Karlaftis has the acceleration to chase down a run going away from him.
Karlaftis’ improvement was essential for the Chiefs’ defense. The pass rush was a question heading into the season, especially with Chris Jones’ situation up in the air and a six-game suspension on deck for Charles Omenihu. From the jump, Karlaftis was making plays; he batted down a pass in Week 1, then earned 1.5 sacks in Week 2 before adding another half-sack in Week 3.
The most productive game of his season came in the loss to the Denver Broncos, where he earned 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble.
The second-year defensive end is putting it together this season. Some may have seen him as simply a high-motor, high-effort player — but that is just the foundation of the 22-year-old. Those traits are combined with pass-rush skills that improve each week and contribute to one of the NFL’s best defenses.
Who is your most improved Chiefs player at the bye week?
This poll is closed
Willie Gay Jr.