Kayvon Thibodeaux

Kayvon Thibodeaux To Make Giants Debut

The Giants managed to win their first two games without both their starting outside linebackers. They will have an improved defensive lineup against the Cowboys on Monday night.

Azeez Ojulari and No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux are active for the Giants. This comes after Thibodeaux managed three limited practices leading up to the NFC East matchup. An MCL sprain sustained during the preseason led to Thibodeaux not beginning his Giants regular-season run on time. Leonard Williams, who suffered an MCL sprain in Week 2, is inactive.

A year ago, Thibodeaux was viewed as a possible No. 1 overall pick. The Oregon pass rusher’s stock dipped slightly during the pre-draft period, leading to rumors he could endure a bit of a draft-night fall. The Giants prevented that from happening, selecting him with the first of their two first-round choices. The Thibodeaux-Ojulari pairing will be, investment-wise, easily the team’s top edge-rushing duo since Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon.

After trading JPP in 2018 and Vernon in 2019, the Giants took an unusually minimalistic approach at this premium position. The team passed on using premium draft capital on the spot in 2019 or 2020, despite an apparent glaring need, and saw its edge production suffer during Markus Golden‘s abbreviated 2020 slate (before an in-season trade sent him back to Arizona). Ojulari, however, made an impact as a rookie second-rounder last season, registering eight sacks. Ojulari, who missed time with a calf injury, will now team with one of the highest-profile defensive investments in Giants history.

Thibodeaux, who will not turn 22 until December, posted 19 sacks in three Ducks seasons. Attitude- and work ethic-based concerns led to the slight draft drop, below edges Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson. The 6-foot-5 outside linebacker will have a chance to prove himself as a pro beginning in a nationally televised spot. The Giants had used former third-round pick Oshane Ximines and ex-Don Martindale Ravens charge Jihad Ward as their edge starters over the first two weeks.

Giants LB Azeez Ojulari Expects To Play Monday Night

It sounds like Azeez Ojulari will make his season debut on Monday night. The Giants linebacker told reporters that he’ll play against the Cowboys, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter).

The 2021 second-round pick injured his calf during a practice in late August. The team avoided placing him on injured reserve with the hope that he’d return within the first four games. It sounds like the gamble worked out, as Ojulari will have ultimately missed only a pair of games.

Ojulari had a productive rookie season in New York, finishing with 49 tackles, eight sacks, and 13 QB hits. Pro Football Focus graded him as a below-average edge defender, but despite an especially low pass-rushing score, he still managed to put up solid numbers for a rookie.

The 22-year-old won’t be the only pass rusher aiming to take the field this weekend. Kayvon Thibodeaux is hoping to make his NFL debut on Monday after nursing a knee injury suffered during the preseason.

“Thibs and Azeez, they’re getting close,” coach Brian Daboll told reporters (via Michael Eisen of the team’s website). “They’re going to take some team reps today. I think they took a little bit last week, but they’re going to take more this week. They’re getting close, so we’ll see with them. I’d say they’re still day-to-day even though they’re on the close side.”

When the two players return, Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines will likely be demoted to secondary roles on the edge.

Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux Out For Week 1

The Giants will be shorthanded in the edge rush department when they begin the season against the Titans this afternoon. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux is among the team’s inactives (Twitter link via Dan Salomone of the team’s website). 

The No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, Thibodeaux suffered an MCL sprain during the preseason, which came with a recovery timeline of at least three weeks. That made a Week 1 debut possible, but it was always more likely that the Giants would tread carefully with their highly-touted rookie.

The Oregon product was considered a candidate to fall down the board at times during the pre-draft process, but was the third edge rusher to hear his name called. His final season with the Ducks took him out of the conversation to go No. 1 overall, but the Giants were pleased to land the 6-5, 250-pounder and envision a versatile role for him. New York ranked 22nd last season in sacks, and Thibodeaux will likely go a long way in determining whether or not the team can improve in 2022.

Fellow projected starter Azeez Ojulari will also be sidelined, as had been expected in the build-up to today’s game. The 2021 second-rounder had a productive rookie campaign with eight sacks and 49 total stops, so his absence will be exacerbated by that of Thibodeaux and, to a lesser extent, fellow rookie Darrian Beavers. The Giants have Oshane Ximines, Tomon Fox and practice squad elevation Quincy Roche to lead their pass rush.

Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux Sprains MCL

12:06pm: Thibodeaux did not escape the situation unscathed. Tests revealed the No. 5 overall pick suffered an MCL sprain, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Although Thibodeaux did not tear his ACL or meniscus, he is expected to miss at least three weeks. The Giants remain hopeful their top pick will be ready for Week 1, but it would not surprise if the organization exercised caution here.

Beavers was not as fortunate. The sixth-round pick suffered a torn ACL, the team confirmed. Beavers is the second Giants 2022 draftee to sustain that injury this summer, following fifth-round offensive lineman Marcus McKethan.

9:05am: The Giants won their preseason contest against the Bengals last night, but the main takeaway from the game was the injury scare regarding first-round rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux. The defensive end suffered a knee injury, but there are encouraging signs that no serious damage was done. 

Thibodeaux was sidelined after he was on the receiving end of a low cut block, and did not return to the game. After the contest was over, though, the fifth overall pick was seen walking without a limp, and said “I’m good. … We’re good. Good news” (video link via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan).

Likewise, there is “initial optimism” that the Oregon product has avoided anything serious, as detailed by Jeremy Bergan of NFL.com. More testing will be done today to gather further information, but the belief that Thibodeaux will not be unavailable for any extended period is significant news for himself personally and the Giants collectively.

Once labeled a favorite to be selected No. 1 overall in this year’s draft, the six-foot-five, 250-pounder had an underwhelming final college season and was considered a candidate to fall down the board. Instead, the Giants committed to him emerging as one of – if not the top – pass-rushers in the class, something which the team sorely needs after ranking 22nd in the league in sacks last season.

The news isn’t all good on the injury front for Big Blue, however. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that fellow rookie Darrian Beavers is likely to have suffered a major knee injury. More will be known later today for the sixth-round linebacker, but he will all-but assuredly miss significant time, keeping in line with the many injuries the Giants are currently dealing with. In the case of their top prospect, at least, the situation is an optimistic one.

Latest On Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux

Kayvon Thibodeaux has, to no surprise, been a central figure in discussion surrounding the Giants’ offseason. The No. 5 overall pick has been dealing with a previously unspecified injury, however, limiting his ability to acclimate to the NFL in the build-up to his rookie campaign. 

Dan Duggan of The Athletic reports (on Twitter) that the ailment in question is a “tweaked hip.” He adds that the injury is considered to be a minor one and posits that the Oregon alum should be fully healthy by training camp in July. More generally, Duggan notes that the team has been “excessively cautious” with injuries during the offseason so far (Twitter link), which could ease concerns about Thibodeaux missing time at the start of the season.

The 6-foot-5, 250 pounder figures to play a large part in the Giants’ defense right away. The team is eyeing a role for him which involves rushing not only off the edge, but from the interior as well. One of the main reasons for that is the fact that they had him rated higher than fellow pass rushers Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinsonwho were selected first and second overall, respectively.

Thibodeaux flashed his potential in college to the point of being in consideration for the top pick heading into the 2021 campaign. His stock waned during much of the pre-draft process due to concerns related to his work ethic, but rebounded in time to be a top-five selection. In New York, he will look to boost a pass rush which ranked 22nd in the league in sacks last season, while backing up his draft position and associated expectations in the process.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Eagles, Clark

Participation among key Giants receivers was light during this year’s offseason. Sterling Shepard continues to close out his Achilles rehab, while Kadarius Toney missed time because of a new injury. Kenny Golladay was also limited during the team’s spring workouts. This could point to Darius Slayton being retained as an insurance policy of sorts, but the fourth-year wideout does not seem to be a favorite of the new regime, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com offers. Slayton buzz this offseason continues to point to a departure, and Raanan does not have the former fifth-rounder making the team. The Giants shopped the two-time 700-yard receiver ahead of the draft and took Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson in Round 2, further crowding their receiving corps. Due to a proven performance escalator, Slayton’s rookie contract finishes up with a $2.5MM 2022 salary.

Here is the NFC East’s latest:

  • Haason Reddick‘s potential role as an outside linebacker who moves to defensive end on passing downs in a 4-3 scheme reminded of Von Miller‘s in his initial Broncos seasons. But the Eagles may no longer be keen on keeping their highly paid edge rusher in the garage. They are leaning toward more 3-4 sets this season, Tim McManus of ESPN.com notes. This would allow Reddick, who turned his career around after the Cardinals gave him a chance as a pure edge player in 2020, the opportunity to rush on most plays. The former first-round pick has accumulated 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons.
  • The Eagles have a formidable-looking defensive tackle crew, having drafted Jordan Davis to pair with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Despite Davis’ massive frame, McManus adds the Eagles believe he can be a three-down player. Nose tackles often come off the field on passing downs, making the use of a top-15 pick on one questionable. While Davis might not be ticketed for an immediate three-down role, given the veterans that headline his Philly position group, the Georgia-developed size-speed freak will have that chance as a pro.
  • Cowboys rookie linebacker Damone Clark is not expected to suit up anytime soon. The fifth-round pick underwent spinal fusion surgery in March, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota, and may miss the season. Even if Clarke suits up, Machota adds the Cowboys are not expecting that to happen until late in the season (subscription required). Clark recorded 135 tackles and 5.5 sacks during his final LSU season and will rejoin ex-Tigers teammate Jabril Cox as part of Dallas’ linebacking corps.
  • Although Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson went first and second overall, Giants DC Don Martindale and outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins viewed Kayvon Thibodeaux as this draft’s best edge prospect, Raanan notes. Lofty draft-board proclamations often emerge after teams make their picks, but the Giants did select a player who exited 2021 atop many mock drafts. The team plans on using Thibodeaux as an inside pass rusher as well, Raanan adds. Big Blue has enjoyed success with edge rushers moving inside, but it has been a while since Justin Tuck and Co. thrived in the Big Apple.

Giants Agree To Terms With First-Round DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, OT Evan Neal

The Giants have agreed to terms with their two first-round picks. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports (on Twitter), that the Giants will sign defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Evan Neal to their rookie pacts following practice today.

Thibodeaux’s four-year rookie deal is worth a fully guaranteed $31.3MM (not including the non-guaranteed fifth-year option), per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). The four fully guaranteed years on Neal’s contract are worth $24.6MM.

Thibodeaux was a candidate to go first-overall, but he was ultimately selected by the Giants with the fifth-overall pick. In three years at Oregon, Thibodeaux led the squad in sacks and tackles for loss. He finished his career with 19.0 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss, and he also added 14 quarterback hurries over his career, leading the team last year with eight. In early February, Thibodeaux started to see his draft stock affected in a way not uncommon to Oregon alumni, with one pundit questioning the player’s”fire.”

Neal’s status as the top blocker in this year’s class was challenged by NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu throughout the draft process. At one point, the Alabama product was the definitive top OT prospect in the draft, but his stock seemingly fell a bit leading up to the draft. Despite falling below Ekwonu, Neal was still selected with the seventh-overall pick. At six-foot-seven, 360 pounds, Neal’s size and frame are certainly NFL-ready. He projects well as a powerful right tackle, though he started every game this season on the blindside. He earned a PFF grade of 84.5 for the 2021 season, in which he was a consensus First-Team All American.

Once the two signings are complete, 20 of the draft’s 32 first-round picks will have inked their rookie pacts, including every player in the top-eight (per Pelissero on Twitter).

Giants Draft Kayvon Thibodeaux At No. 5

Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux was long expected to go No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, but his name was finally called at No. 5 overall, making him a member of the Giants.

In three years in Eugene, Thibodeaux did exactly as he was recruited to do as a five-star prospect, leading the team in sacks and tackles for loss all three seasons. He finished his career with 19.0 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss, only failing to amass double-digit TFLs in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, when he had 9.5 through seven games. He also added 14 quarterback hurries over his career, leading the team last year with 8.

In early February, Thibodeaux started to see his draft stock affected in a way not uncommon to Oregon alumni. In an interview with Bleacher Report, as reported by Paul Kasabian, ESPN’s Todd McShay spouted his opinions on the top prospect saying, “I heard a lot about Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, including concerns that he just doesn’t play with the same fire as some other top prospects…it wouldn’t shock me if Thibodeaux fell out of the top five.”

The same concerns were placed on former first round draft picks and Oregon alumni Justin Herbert and Penei Sewell. Those concerns don’t matter much anymore as Thibodeaux has heard his name called and will head to New York for the next step of his career.

Eagles Aiming To Trade Into Top 10

The Eagles have made trades to move their first-round pick ahead of the past two drafts; they might not be done changing their Round 1 slot this year. They are trying to trade up from No. 15 overall, James Palmer of NFL.com notes (video link).

Philadelphia is aiming to move into the top 10, per Palmer, who adds the team’s pass rush may well be the focus of such a trade. More specifically, the Eagles are interested in Kayvon Thibodeaux, a defensive end once viewed as the top overall prospect. His value has since become one of this draft’s top subplots.

[RELATED: Thibodeaux Re-Establishing Momentum?]

Given the volatility of Thibodeaux’s stock, the Eagles will almost certainly need to wait until the draft begins to orchestrate a trade. Thibodeaux has been connected to a top-five destination and has also been mentioned as a player who could fall out of the top 10. The talented edge’s landing spot may be somewhere in between, giving the Eagles a potential target range.

After entering April with three first-round picks in the teens of this year’s draft, the Eagles parted with one of those picks and moved into the Saints’ No. 15 slot. Philly holds the Nos. 15 and 18 picks this year and has two more first-rounders next year. The Eagles have been linked to wide receivers throughout the pre-draft process, despite having selected one in each of the past two first rounds, and cornerback could loom as a position of interest as well. But the team finished 31st in sacks last season.

The Eagles re-signed 2017 first-round pick Derek Barnett and added Haason Reddick in free agency. They also extended Josh Sweat months ago. Brandon Graham, however, is coming off an Achilles tear and entering his age-34 season. Thibodeaux would further beef up this stable and give the team an interesting depth chart featuring usable edges beyond its two-deep.

Draft Rumors: Jets, Neal, Giants, Seahawks, Texans, Cowboys

Although the Jets were reported to have gone through a productive visit with Kayvon Thibodeaux, it is looking like they will not draft the Oregon-developed pass rusher if he is on the board at No. 4. Questions about Thibodeaux’s fit with the rebuilding team’s culture has led most to expect GM Joe Douglas to pass, Brian Costello of the New York Post notes. Thibodeaux may be this draft’s most frequently discussed player, given his talent coupled with the attitude and effort concerns that dinged him during the draft lead-up. The Jets have recently been linked to Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson, a player they are believed to prefer to Thibodeaux despite the latter being graded higher by most experts. Johnson has generated buzz about becoming a top-10 pick, which would put the Jets to a decision at No. 4. The Georgia transfer might not be available when the Jets pick again (assuming they do not trade for a wide receiver) at No. 10.

On draft eve, here is the latest heading into the 2022 event:

  • Another player on the top-five radar, Evan Neal is not believed to have been given a clean bill of health by every team. Hip and knee issues have given some teams pause, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. This could see the Alabama product, depending on where teams in the top 10 stand here, fall behind fellow high-end tackle prospects like Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross. Neal’s camp has pushed back on this, and Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio adds the top-tier prospect was not asked to return to Indianapolis for the Combine’s medical recheck. Neal did not miss a game last season.
  • Jerry Jones said recently he is willing to trade up from No. 24. How far up? The Cowboys might be prepared to part with notable draft capital, with NFL.com’s Jane Slater indicating Cross, Northern Iowa tackle Trevor Penning and USC wide receiver Drake London are names to watch regarding a Dallas move up. Cross and London have been mentioned often as top-10 picks, while Penning has his share of fans as well. Based on the targets listed here, the Cowboys would likely need to make a strong offer. It would be quite costly for the Cowboys to move into or near the top 10, but they have been eyeing O-linemen. Dallas holds one pick in each of the second and third rounds.
  • On the subject of moves, which are mentioned often in the days ahead of a draft, teams have contacted the Giants about the No. 7 overall pick, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Seahawks are one of them, having shown interest in moving from 9 to 7. Seattle has often traded down in Round 1 under John Schneider, though the team has not enjoyed top-10 real estate since Schneider and Pete Carroll‘s first draft together (2010). Possessing needs at several spots, the Giants have been connected to using their No. 5 pick and trading down from 7.
  • Texans GM Nick Caserio said Wednesday a 99% chance exists his team will stay at No. 3 and make a pick, but the team is more open to a move at 13 — the pick obtained via the Deshaun Watson trade. The second-year GM has spoken with at least six teams about the No. 13 choice, per NFL.com’s Jim Trotter (Twitter link). Many teams view first-round trades as likelier to occur after the top 10, Fowler adds.