With Kayvon Thibodeaux it's not a question if he will go in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, it's a matter of when. When healthy, Thibodeaux was without a doubt the best player on the field and there's no reason to think that he won't be able to carry over his game-breaking potential to the pros. The scouting reports vary but in the end, that's only going to determine just when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calls his name on April 28.
(This profile is one of 230 featured in the Athlon Sports 2022 NFL Draft Guide. With in-depth scouting reports on the top prospects, position rankings, and more, no source will have you better prepared for draft day. Purchase a copy online today, the digital edition for instant access, or look for it on newsstands everywhere.)
Kayvon Thibodeaux Draft Profile
He battled injury throughout his final season in Eugene, but Thibodeaux was the most dominant pass rusher in the nation when he was on the field. He’s absolutely electric off the snap, with exceptional quickness for his size. He looks like he’s stepping on a trampoline the way he explodes with each step. He shows the flexibility to bend and turn the corner without sacrificing speed. He’s much more than just a speed rusher, though. He has long, strong arms that allow him to ward off tackles when working around the edge, and he converts speed to power with ease, even driving back tackles who have squared him up. His length also gives him a tremendous tackle radius, with the ability to finish plays as a pass rusher and run defender, where he’s sturdy setting the edge.
Durability is the biggest concern coming off last season, when Thibodeaux battled a series of nagging ailments and looked less than 100 percent in the Pac-12 title game loss to Utah. He could use a little more refinement as a pass rusher, where he often was able to win with speed and athleticism. Some of the better tackles he faced succeeded in pushing him past the pocket.
Thibodeaux has every tool you want in an edge player, along with the physicality and tenacity to put it together. He and Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson are 1 and 1A in this class, though they’re a little different stylistically in terms of their pass-rush approach. Assuming injuries don’t become a long-term issue, Thibodeaux has as high a ceiling as anyone in this class.
Final Grade: Top-10 Pick