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New York Giants draft Kayvon Thibodeaux with 5th pick in 2022 NFL Draft, examining 2022 impact

Matt Johnson
New York Giants, Kayvon Thibodeaux
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants selected Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Oregon Ducks edge rusher, with the third pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28 in Las Vegas.

Thibodeaux, a native of Los Angeles, California, rated as 247 Sports’ No. 2 overall player in the 2019 recruiting class. He enrolled at Oregon in 2019, quickly becoming one of the best defensive players in the Pac-12 Conference.

A 6-foot-4 edge rusher, many viewed Thibodeaux as the consensus No. 1 prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft before the season. However, an ankle sprain limited him in his junior season and Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson broke out.

Entering the pre-draft process, multiple teams reportedly had concerns about Thibodeaux’s effort level in games and some anonymous executives cited his “me” personality appearing during interviews. However, he’s an immensely talented player and

A unanimous All-American selection in 2021, Pro Football Focus credited Thibodeaux with a 91.5 pass-rushing grade. He thrived both as a pass rusher and held up against the run, proving himself to be one of the most well-rounded defensive players in the country.

Kayvon Thibodeaux draft profile

  • Kayvon Thibodeaux stats (2021): 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks in 10 games
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux 40 time: 4.58 seconds
  • Sportsnaut NFL Draft board: 2nd

Let’s examine how Kayvon Thibodeaux fits the New York Giants defense and what kind of expectations fans should have for him in 2022.

Why the New York Giants drafted Kayvon Thibodeaux

NCAA Football: California at Oregon
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

A few years from now, we could look back on the 2022 NFL Draft and view Thibodeaux as the best edge rusher to come out of it. While there are elements of risk with him, he always offered the ability to contribute in Week 1 on all three downs with an achievable ceiling to become a far greater player.

There are simply traits he brings to the table that can’t be taught. One of his best qualities, something Hutchinson lacked, is the bend and flexibility to really peel himself around blockers. When an edge rusher can angle their body just to create leverage and find an angle clearing a path towards a quarterback, that’s a huge plus.

It’s also not like he can only be used on passing downs. When healthy, he displayed the effort level to chase down running backs no matter where they were on the field. Thibodeaux also boasts the strength to seal off the edge, forcing the ball carrier back inside. There is a lot for a coaching staff to build upon.

“Enticing edge defender whose game is fueled by traits and power over skill and instincts at this juncture of his career. Thibodeaux is hardly a finished product, but has pro-ready attributes that should help him acclimate quickly. He’s a plus run defender who punches above his weight at the point of attack with heavy hands and a sturdy base. He has some suddenness in tight quarters and above-average pursuit speed, which should keep the tackles for loss rolling in throughout his career. Thibodeaux rushes with effort, upfield burst and play-through power that should bring reasonable sack/pressure production.”

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein on edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeauz

He is precisely the kind of edge rusher a defensive mind wants to mold into a Pro Bowl player. There are certain things for him to work on, but he made strides in college and that’s a positive sign for his trajectory. As for his personality and an interest in building a brand, that can fuel a player to work even harder so they can prove themselves

  • Kayvon Thibodeaux stat projections: Nine tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles in 17 games

For the New York Giants, this pick is far less risky than edge defender Travon Walker and Thibodeaux is more likely to reach his ‘floor’ than Walker. Some even ranked him ahead of Aidan Hutchinson, given Thibodeaux’s length and flexibility. Thibodeaux should be a leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Draft Grade: A

A dream scenario for the New York Giants. Don ‘Wink’ Martindale needed a three-down edge rusher who could be moved around and make an impact both against the run and as an edge rusher. Thibodeaux checks all the boxes and should thrive under Martindale’s direction.

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