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Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux
Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade
6.56 — certain first-round pick; immediate-impact prospect
TL;DR scouting report
Twitchy, gifted edge rusher with some special traits and very good potential, but he might never become an elite pass rusher
A 5-star Rivals recruit (No. 6 nationally) in 2019, Thibodeaux turned down most of college football's blue-blood programs to sign with Oregon. As a true freshman with the Ducks, he started five of 14 games and was named the Pac-12 coaches' Freshman of the Year with nine sacks and dominated the Pac-12 title game with 2.5 sacks and a blocked punt. Although Thibodeaux was limited to three sacks in seven games in 2020, he rebounded with seven sacks, along with two forced fumbles, in 11 games in 2021. He declared early for the 2022 NFL draft.
NFL-caliber athlete before he sets foot in the league
Unusual mix of length, speed and bend for his size
Strong, natural athletic instincts — good reactionary skills
Explosive power generated from lower body through his hands
Stresses blockers immediately off the snap with burst — great first step
Able to win in a variety of ways
Arrived at Oregon as speed rusher but has added and developed potent power element
Uses length to keep blockers at bay, keeps head and eyes up and can disengage to make plays
Has shown good effort on pursuit plays and fending off persistent blockers
Flattens down the line to flush out wide run plays
Great flexibility and bend to stress the corner and change directions quickly
Rarely seen being dominated on individual snaps
Able to rush effectively from both sides, multiple techniques
Sets up blockers with changeup moves, keeps them guessing snap to snap
Active hands — looks to dislodge ball, disrupt passing windows
Loose enough athlete to drop into space and used in short coverage
Appears to want to be great
Appears to have skipped a few leg days — under-developed lower half
Thinner upper half that could use more strength and armor
Aggressiveness will be used against him on read-options, pitches and screens
Freelances and guesses, which can lead to loss of gap integrity
Widens rush paths and allows runners to slip inside him
Doesn't always wrap up — lets would-be tackles slip through his grasp a bit too often
Lines up off the line to gain a runway, and it can work against him vs. run, short passing game
Flagged nine times in 2021 (two declined), including targeting call late in loss to Stanford
Gets turned sideways, perpendicular to line of scrimmage, too often
More effective rushing from defensive right side than left
Pass-rush variance only so so — needs to string moves together better
Streaky sack production — they come in bunches with some gaps in between
Still limited in coverage — likely won't be a huge element in his game
Not as effective harnessing his length inside
Snap-to-snap consistency and effort remain a work in progress
Big, boundless personality with extreme confidence can be viewed as borderline arrogant/spotlight seeker
Some NFL teams we've spoken with feel that Thibodeaux could be a great player in time if he's fit into the right situation. There's a belief that pairing him with the right veteran defender and defensive coaches might be the key to unlocking his rare talent. There are still too many teases with Thibodeaux's talent, but he could thrive in a veteran locker room with a demanding, tough-love staff that fuels his desire to achieve greatness.
Did you know
An avid chess player, Thibodeaux loves playing the game aggressively from the start and says he believes pass rushing and chess strategy have a lot of overlap.
"Chess is life and chess is football," he said at the NFL combine. "You talk about your first move, and your first move is gonna set up your second move, and then you've got to think about your third move ahead. ...
"You have to put people in pressure moments so you get want you want out of situations. For me, I'm putting my queen out there first and I'm making you make decisions. Because a lot of people make bad decisions when they're under pressure — just like a quarterback."
There are a lot of comparisons to Jadevon Clowney in Thibodeaux's game — for both good and bad reasons.
Expected draft range