The Chiefs defense has been the breakout story of the 2023 campaign, ranking fourth in opponent points per game (13.3) while looking like one of the most dominant units in the NFL.
Second-year standouts Trent McDuffie and George Karlaftis are two of the main reasons why the defense looks so good, with both players taking a big leap at critical positions.
If these two maintain this level of play, Kansas City’s defensive prowess will be no fluke, especially with Charles Omenihu returning from suspension in a few weeks.
Knowing Brett Veach’s reluctance to hand out massive contracts, it’s possible the Chiefs won’t sign both McDuffie and Karlaftis to long-term extensions when the time comes. If that’s the case, which player should be prioritized?
Let’s evaluate each player and find out.
McDuffie vs. Karlaftis: Who Has the Higher Ceiling?
McDuffie has been sensational through three weeks, leading the club in tackles (16) AND forced fumbles (2) while displaying the sort of lockdown coverage ability the Chiefs dreamed of when taking him in the first round of the 2022 draft.
When you combine McDuffie’s physicality with his ball skills and physical traits, you get a special player.
That’s spectacular, and it’s fitting to see familiar names on that list like Kendall Fuller, Charvarius Ward, and Steven Nelson.
Veach elected not to keep any of those players long-term, but McDuffie looks like the best of the bunch.
It’s impressive enough that the Chiefs held all No. 1 receivers they’ve faced (Amon-Ra St. Brown, Calvin Ridley, and DJ Moore) under their receiving totals, but McDuffie’s nose for the football and incredible tackling ability has been just as important to Kansas City’s success.
He might be the best tackler on the team right now Nick Bolton notwithstanding, and it looks like he’s improving each week. I don’t know if Veach will sign McDuffie to a huge extension, but I’m certainly hoping he does at this rate.