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Why Kayvon Thibodeaux and Ikem Ekwonu could be perfect for the New York Giants

Jason Leach
New York Giants
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

In Sportsnaut’s latest NFL mock draft, the New York Giants walked away with edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu. While the 2022 NFL Draft is months away, this could be the perfect outcome for New York.

Holding the 5th and 7th overall picks, general manager Joe Schoen is facing countless possibilities. From a blockbuster trade-up to the No.1 pick, sliding down to collect more draft capital or staying put, he can go anywhere.

Schoen knows the team needs upgrades on both sides of the ball, especially along the offensive and defensive lines.

New York’s offensive line has been a glaring weakness for almost a decade, a weakness so strong that some believe Big Blue should select the two best offensive linemen available.

However, Schoen is in a position of power and flexibility that first-time general managers seldom have. He could use one of his first-round picks and take the highest player on his draft board. Then trade the other pick a few spots and acquire more picks that would include a first-round pick in 2023.

We’ll find out in two months at the draft what Schoen decides to do. For now, let’s explore the scenario presented in our last first-round mock draft.

Related: 4 major New York Giants roster decisions looming for Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll

1st round, 5th overall: Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge rusher, Oregon

NCAA Football: Oregon at Southern California
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New York’s defense looked solid at times in 2021, but it was hampered by an inability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

With Lorenzo Carter a free agent and new defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale wanting to have an aggressive defense, the Giants need edge rushers more than ever.

That’s why Thibodeaux would be an ideal selection with the fifth overall pick.

Thibodeaux – 6-foot-5 and 258 lbs. – has the ideal size that you want in an outside pass rusher. In 30 games at Oregon, recorded 126 tackles and 19 sacks.

He is an explosive and fast edge rusher that would be a Week 1 starter on the opposite side of Azeez Ojulari. Some reports say he needs to do a better job at play recognition, but that is something that can be coached.

If picked, Thibodeaux will be a solid contributor to the defense as a rookie.

1st round, 7th overall: Ikem Ekwonu, offensive tackle, N.C. State

NCAA Football: Clemson at North Carolina State
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

As horrendous as the Giants’ offensive line has been, there’s no way that they don’t use at least one of their first-round picks on the offensive line.

With Alabama’s offensive tackle Evan Neal unlikely to be available by the 5th pick, Schoen will have the option to draft the second-best tackle (Ikem Ekwonu). He’d fill a position of need, given Matt Peart is recovering from an ACL tear.

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Although he played left tackle in college, Ekwonu can make a smooth transition to playing right tackle. Some even believe he could play guard, another area of need on New York’s offensive line.

Ekwonu – 6-foot-4 and 320 lbs. – is a mauler that punishes defenders. He would bring a nastiness to the offensive line that has been sorely lacking.

With Ekwonu at right tackle and Andrew Thomas at left tackle, the Giants would have two pillars on the offensive line for years to come.