George Karlaftis, Purdue
If you like defensive ends who put people in the ground, you will just love Purdue’s George Karlaftis. The former Boilermaker wants to bury you on every single play, and he has the power and bullrush ability to do just that against even the strongest of tackles. Karlaftis has a set of powerful hands, and his energy never wavers on that front. He consistently looks for opportunities to smash his way through the offensive line, and his punch technique is impressive for a college prospect. He’s not fast or twitchy, but he will destroy you with power alone.
Where Karlaftis’s Incredible Hulk-ish bullrush approach might fail him is with strong tackles at the next level. He’s strong, but he’s not superhuman, and pro-level tackles are going to be able to negate his pure power more often that college linemen ever could. I really wish that Karlaftis would show a bit more variety in his game, but his frankly average quickness prevented him from mixing up his game quite a bit while he was at Purdue. I think Karlaftis is good-not-great, but his demeanor and powerful approach to the game is definitely going to get him some looks in the first round.
Comparison: I don’t want to set too lofty of expectations for Karlaftis, but I see his power and approach to the position and I think of T.J. Watt.
Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
FSU’s Jermaine Johnson is a lot like a squirrel driving a semi-truck. That is to say, he’s big and fast, moves erratically, and loses control sometimes. But most importantly, he is going to run you over. Johnson is a wildly explosive edge rusher who made his money blowing by tackles, leaving them in the dust as he plows into their poor quarterback. His feet never, ever stop moving, and he wants to see his pursuit of the play to the end. He consistently plays harder than everyone else on the field, which seems like a bit of a theme with this year’s defensive end class.
Johnson worries me with his lack of finesse, though. Much like Karlaftis, he gets by on a lot of power, and I think I like him a bit more due to his explosive level of quickness. But that being said, He’s not all that bendy below the waist, and I fear that his lack of bend around the edge might cost him in the pro game. He doesn’t have the pure level of power like Karlaftis did, where I just don’t have to worry about it. Rather, it’s one part of his game that is just mysteriously missing. He has the twitch and quickness to get around the edge, but why are his hips so stiff? It’s just weird.
Comparison: Johnson is like if Brian Burns had just gotten out of hip surgery. Both are big, strong, and fast, and they’re built similarly, but Burns can bend at the waist.