Kayvon Thibodeaux is ready to make huge impact in his second season with New York Giants

Kayvon Thibodeaux

Last season, the New York Giants exceeded expectations by finishing the regular season 9-7-1 and upsetting the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC wild-card game, 31-24.

One of the reasons some believe the team will surpass last year’s success is thanks to the progression of the 2022 Draft Class. Often players make the biggest strides in their careers from their rookie season to their second season, and that’s what the team is banking on.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 draft, is posed to have a breakout season following a rookie season that didn’t live up to expectations.

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Thibodeaux was expected to be a disruptive force immediately and be in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The former Oregon edge rusher even set a goal of achieving 15 plus sacks that he displayed on a sticky note on his locker.

Instead, Thibodeaux registered four sacks. One of the reasons he didn’t perform at the standard he set for himself could be attributed to a sprained knee that he suffered in the preseason that caused him to miss the first two games of the season.

Earlier this week, he was asked if he felt at times last season if he felt he left some sacks on the field.

“Definitely. I think every time you look back at a play, you feel like you could have ate a little bit more,” Thibodeaux told reporters. “Last year’s film kind of disgusts me a little bit when I look at myself. I get a little cringe feeling. But it definitely is, like I said, a platform to continue to grow.”

Although he did fall short of expectations in 2022, he showed flashes of greatness that included his performance in the Giants’ 20-12 victory over Washington in Week 15. In that game, Thibodeaux had 12 tackles and a strip sack recovery for a touchdown. As a result of his performance, he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Kayvon Thibodeaux’s offseason work out regimen

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Thibodeaux was motivated this offseason to improve his game in every aspect so that he can play at a high level on a more consistent basis to help his team win.

He was asked what did in the offseason to get better.

“I mean, I worked. I don’t want to give up the secrets. People pay for those,” Thibodeaux joked. “But definitely working out every day. I did, like, three workouts a day on average with recovery, with film study, with everything else. So, just never putting it down. A lot of times when you’re going through life, you think about football season, right? Or offseason. There really is no offseason when you do it as a professional.”

Observers at Giants training camp have said that Thibodeaux seems more mature. There’s optimism that he will record double-digit sacks this season and make New York’s pass rush a dominant force. 

He’s been impressive in 11 on 11 drills and when he’s been matched up on 1-on-1 drills against right tackle Evan Neal.

“A lot of those guys, whether is Kayvon or (Evan) Neal, or (Dane) Belton,” Giants head coach Brian Daboll told reporters. “You hope you make a good jump from year one to year two. Not just production wise but again, I’ve talked about this before, you come out in the draft and it’s not a typical offseason for a player so he’s had a whole offseason to work, improve physically, mentally, so (I’m) excited for him.”

Thibodeaux is without question one of the most important players on the Giants’ roster.  Much of the team’s success on the defensive side of the ball will be based on if he and Azeez Ojulari can become one of the best passing-rushing duos in the league.

If the Giants are going to have any chance of winning their first division title since 2011, they’re going to have to improve on the 41 sacks they registered last season. The onus of achieving that falls heavily on Thibodeaux.

Last season he set a goal to be Defensive Rookie of the Year, this year he has a more mature outlook on his goals.

“Last year I had so many goals and I had so many numbers and statistics on what I wanted to be,” he told reporters. “I just want to be great. I want to help my team win. I want to be a guy who can make plays and make the plays when they count. I’m not really too fixated on numbers, I’m just fixated on really having an impact every game and being available every game.”

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