The Giants needed to boost the pass rush Thursday night. Joe Schoen answered the bell with the selection of Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Schoen took the Oregon defensive end with the No. 5 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. With incredible talent and a nose for the quarterback, Thibodeaux is arguably the most talented prospect of the class.
First take: Rushing the passer is critical and the Giants needed more bodies to consistently attack opposing quarterbacks. Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams weren’t enough. Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale needed additional firepower for his blitz-heavy defense. Thibodeaux’s incredible measurables and pass-rushing skills make him a surefire prospect and someone who could elevate this Giants defense.
Second guesses: There was an alternative option the Giants could’ve considered if they were going to address the pass rush. Schoen could’ve taken Florida defensive end Jermaine Johnson. He also could’ve targeted any of top three offensive tackles, who were all there for the taking at No. 5. If Thibodeaux is a miss, an argument will definitely be made that Schoen should’ve looked elsewhere, but at least they were still able to snag Alabama tackle Evan Neal with the seventh pick.
How does Thibodeaux fit into the 2022 plans? Day-one starter and there’s not a single doubt to it. Thibodeaux is an incredibly talented prospect who can get to the quarterback. You don’t use a top-5 pick on a player like that if you don’t plan to start him from the get-go. Thibodeaux can be a down lineman with Williams in a 4-3 scheme. He can also line up in space opposite Ojulari in a 3-4. The possibilities are endless for the newest Giant, and Martindale should be adoring this acquisition.
Final thoughts: Between his immense talent, measurables, pure athleticism, and the sheer need for pass rushers, Thibodeaux is an awesome pickup for New York. A dominant pass rush should additionally help out the secondary, which might be in flux right now with limited safety options and James Bradberry’s cloudy future (the Giants may trade or release the Pro Bowl corner). But the real work begins now. If Thibodeaux can’t greatly make this Giants defense an eventual playoff-caliber unit, the acquisition will be a waste. Schoen has to get this pick right.