With training camp’s initial report date still about two weeks away, we’re continuing to stir up discussion about the Kansas City Chiefs’ upcoming 2023 season.
Last week, we asked what you thought would be this season’s biggest training camp story. This week, we want your breakout pick.
Who is your pick for “breakout player” for the Chiefs in 2023?
My answer: Defensive end George Karlaftis
I considered wide receiver Skyy Moore here, but I already explained why I like Moore to be productive this year in our discussion a few weeks back. So let’s go in a different direction.
Why not Karlaftis?
The second-year defensive end — whom Kansas City drafted with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft — had one of the best final stretches of any Chiefs player in 2022. After a beginning and middle of the season in which he was close, he finished with 5.5 sacks in the season’s final seven games — and also brought down Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow during the second quarter of the AFC Championship game.
Not satisfied by a strong end to his rookie season and Super Bowl championship, Karlaftis was spotted working on hand-fighting with Kansas City legend Tamba Hali in late March.
“During the offseason, you have some time off, and you kind of get to thinking about different stuff and how you can improve going into your second year, going into the next year,” explained Karlaftis at mandatory minicamp. “I knew there were some Chiefs players and some guys that have been part of the organization that live in town, and I just reached out to him to get some knowledge, and it turned out to be a great relationship. He’s been a great mentor and a great person to me.”
Karlaftis was mentored throughout his rookie season by defensive end Frank Clark, who linked up with the Denver Broncos this offseason. In October of last year, Clark said he had never had a younger teammate more eager to learn from him. Kansas City moved on from Clark this offseason, and it did not sound like there was much of an effort to bring him back. Part of that sentiment, aside from the obvious — the money it would have taken the Chiefs to keep Clark — had to be their belief in Karlaftis and his upcoming second season.
I think with Karlaftis and defensive tackle Chris Jones, the club has a legitimate chance to have two players with 10.0 sacks or more for the first time since 2018, when Jones (15.5) and former Chiefs pass rusher Dee Ford (13.0) were able to accomplish that feat.
Now it’s your turn. Who is your “breakout” pick for 2023? Explain why in our comment section below.