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- American football defensive end
While Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson might be the more polished piece at defensive end in the 2022 NFL Draft, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux certainly has all the tools that have made him the going favorite to be taken first overall.
In contrast to Hutchinson, Thibodeaux brings a blend of speed, bend, and quickness to his game that sets him apart. At 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, Thibodeaux has a body type similar to Myles Garrett and Chase Young. It’s that combination of speed, quickness, and length that has enamored so many in the draft community.
In 10 games this season, Thibodeaux collected seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and a combined 49 total tackles. While those are not the Heisman candidate numbers his adversary in Michigan has, they are no doubt respectable. However, it’s worth noting that statistically speaking, Thibodeaux’s best season was his rookie season, collecting nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss.
When looking at his tools, Thibodeaux has everything you want to see; he just hasn’t quite fit all the pieces together yet. That said, no one has tools like Thibodeaux. A five-star recruit, Thibodeaux has always displayed rare traits and he should be expected to shine at the NFL combine and cement himself as a top-3 selection.
Let’s take a look at that quickness and bend.
*Roger Goodell voice*
With the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the _____ select…
Kayvon Thibodeaux. Defensive end. Oregon. pic.twitter.com/xFCtfmbSH9
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 24, 2021
Here’s a great example of Thibodeaux just being simply too fast for the tackle. He uses his exceptional get-off to get into the tackle’s space and then dips under him for an easy sack. Thibodeaux made more contact with the tackle than the tackle did him.
With that speed, Thibodeaux also brings plenty of power to his game, moving lineman with ease, whether that’s in run game or when pass-rushing.
Diving into some film from the weekend. First up was a good matchup here on the right side of the WSU O-line.
Kayvon Thibodeaux vs. Abraham Lucas is a battle between two top NFL prospects, here KT pushes him back and makes a play in the running game. pic.twitter.com/sezL2Hw9IR
— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) November 15, 2021
Love this initial pop from Kayvon Thibodeaux – he's shown plenty of power this year for a guy that can dominate with speed rush ability pic.twitter.com/2Mh3m2PvQg
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) November 29, 2021
Thibodeaux has everything scouts look for in a draft prospect. His ceiling is among the highest in the class and if he gets the pieces to fit, he’s bound to be the best player in this class and a difference-maker at the next level. That’s something Jacksonville desperately needs. Should Jacksonville look to the defense with their first selection, Thibodeaux could be the guy to pair with Josh Allen and become a focal point of the franchise for years to come.
If he does polish up his game, it will be something to behold.
After Kayvon Thibodeaux, who do you think is the best edge rusher in the 2022 NFL draft class?pic.twitter.com/nwwXR1ftlo
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) November 20, 2021
Sure, the Jags are a team that needs help around Trevor Lawrence more than anything, but getting him help won’t necessarily require the Jags’ first draft pick. Additionally, just as the team once needed a franchise quarterback, they now need a franchise pass-rusher, and having the two most important positions in football covered would get them going in the right direction. That’s exactly why Thibodeaux is worth considering for a franchise that needs talent in a lot of spots.