With the 2022 NFL draft only hours away, Kayvon Thibodeaux’s selection remains one of the biggest unknowns.
Going into the 2021 season, the idea of Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux going outside of the top five in this year’s draft was unthinkable. In a class filled with uncertainty at positions such as quarterback, many believed Thibodeaux could be a strong contender for the first overall pick.
Even after injuries prevented Thibodeaux from having the big 2021 season that many anticipated, his seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss seemed to be enough to keep him in the mix for a top spot. Most early mock drafts had Thibodeaux going No. 2 overall to the Lions.
But as we all know, the NFL moves fast, and the three years Thibodeaux spent displaying NFL traits at Oregon has seemingly become overshadowed by concerns regarding his personality and work ethic in recent months. Now on the day of the 2022 NFL draft, his stock is as much of a mystery as ever.
It’s hard to find many problems with Thibodeaux as a player. Not to suggest he is a flawless prospect, but Thibodeaux’s combination of skills and athletic ability screams first-round pick. Many have gone as far as to say Thibodeaux has a higher ceiling than Michigan edge Aiden Hutchinson.
The concerns NFL teams seem to have with Kayvon Thibodeaux relate more to the person than the player. The headlines that have been circulating the past few months suggest that Thibodeaux isn’t as coachable or hardworking. These reports are hard to dispute or confirm for those who aren’t in close contact with either Thibodeaux or his peers. Whether or not these claims hold any merit, they have undoubtedly damaged Thibodeaux’s stock. The once surefire top-five pick is now in danger of falling outside of the top ten altogether.
Thibodeaux isn’t the first, nor will he be the last prospect to see his stock fall due to character concerns. Given the importance the draft, especially the first couple of rounds, can have on the future of an organization, it’s understandable that teams conduct thorough investigations into every prospect.
Though NFL teams are often mistaken, they are very rarely illogical. Having a prospect of Thibodeaux’s caliber fall outside of the top five, let alone the top 10, wouldn’t make any sense unless there were serious worries about something outside of on-field ability. With that said, it’s not uncommon for teams to overthink things and possibly exaggerate the risks involved with drafting a player. The “it’s better to be safe than sorry” mindset has worked in some instances but has also backfired in others. Randy Moss’ slide to the 21st spot in the 1998 draft is one of the most famous examples of a historically great player falling much further than he should’ve.
Few players have undergone the scrutiny and criticism that Kayvon Thibodeaux has over the last few months. But tomorrow night when his name gets called, whether it’s top five, top 10, or top 20, the pre-draft storylines will become background noise and Thibodeaux will have a chance to prove everyone wrong on the field.