Kayvon Thibodeaux
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

WFAN’s Boomer Esiason questioned Kayvon Thibodeaux’s ability to live up to his draft-pick expectations earlier this week. The Giants’ outside linebacker and 2022 fifth-overall pick improved toward the end of last season. However, he wasn’t an every-game star by any means.

It didn’t help that Thibodeaux was a no-show in last Sunday’s opener. He tallied just four total tackles (three assisted). Those came without a single sack, quarterback hit or even pressure.

“There is another problem for the Giants,” Esiason said on the Fan’s “Boomer and Gio” earlier this week. “Kayvon Thibodeaux may not be what he thinks he is, or who the Giants thought he would be when they drafted him.”

He may not be wrong. Thibodeaux, at this point, should be a game-wrecker. And like many other Giants players, the pass rusher seemed to take a negative trajectory in the season-opening 40-0 loss to Dallas.

But Thibodeaux has an incredible opportunity to improve that trajectory this Sunday at 4:05 pm ET in Arizona. Not only is it a get-right game for the Giants defense against a weak Cardinals offense, but fellow edge rusher Azeez Ojulari is doubtful with a hamstring injury. So the spotlight will be on Thibodeaux and only Thibodeaux.

The Giants will need him to live up to his draft pedigree. He’s truly the only talented pass rusher among New York’s Week 2 actives. Alongside Thibodeaux will be Jihad Ward (more of a run defender), the unproven Boogie Basham, Oshane Ximines off the practice squad, and Isaiah Simmons, who’s still trying to find his role. Not ideal for what’s supposed to be a blitz-heavy Wink Martindale defense. Especially one that needs to bounce back after an underwhelming Week 1 performance.

Thibodeaux needs that bounce-back game just as much as anyone. If he dominates the Cardinals, he could begin stacking good games in what’s a difficult early portion of the schedule. But if he continues underperforming, he’ll have an even bigger task trying to develop momentum. That’s because it’ll have to come against playoff contenders like the 49ers, Seahawks, Dolphins, and Bills in Weeks 3-6.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.