The New York Giants knew all about Kayvon Thibodeaux and the big personality that apparently drove some NFL teams away from the Oregon edge defender, at one time thought to be a likely No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
That’s because the Giants probably did more work on Thibodeaux, a player they hope will be a cornerstone of their defense for years to come, than on any other player in the 2022 draft class.
“We spent a lot of time with him. We met with him at the Combine, I flew out there for his pro day along with a couple other individuals, and we had him in here for a visit. He’s a very outgoing individual. He’s got a lot of personality. I’m sure you guys will enjoy your time with him meeting him, but a really good kid, likeable kid, works hard,” GM Joe Schoen said Thursday night.
“We had a good — Brian [Daboll] and I had several conversations with some of his coaches the last couple of days. We FaceTimed him last weekend and we got to know the kid maybe more than any player in this draft. Liked the personality and liked the player.”
Perhaps the Giants tipped their hand when it comes to their interest in Thibodeaux way back at the Combine, when Thibodeaux admitted the Giants had given him a “hard time” during their meeting with him.
“We had a great interview. They were kinda on me. They were giving me a hard time, but I feel like it was that big brother moment where they give you a hard time because they’re interested in you and they like you,” Thibodeaux said at the time. “I grew up in a big city, so a big city is nothing new to me.”
Turns out he was right about the Giants’ interest. And now, he will perform in the big city in front of the bright lights.
“They [the Giants] are getting a leader, they are getting a competitor and they are getting a guy who wants to win at any means,” Thibodeaux said after the selection. “The Giants believe in me, and me and Evan [Neal] are going to go to work, and this is probably one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Daboll isn’t worried about handling Thibodeaux’s personality.
“I like coaching good guys,” he said. “Everybody has a different personality. When you’re coaching in the National Football League for 22 years, you come across a lot of different characters, and as long as they love football and they are a pro on and off the field. I have six kids, and they all have different personalities. And that’s the job of a coach, too, to learn your players, what makes them tick, how to push them when they need pushed, how to hug them when they need a hug. Felt very comfortable with him.”
Thibodeaux is the first pass rushing edge or defensive end the Giants have selected in Round 1 since Jason Pierre-Paul in 2010. He should join Leonard Williams and Azeez Ojulari to upgrade a Giants pass rush that was 23rd in the league last season with 34 sacks, and has truthfully been lacking now for several seasons.
“Kayvon is quick off the ball. I think he has a wide variety of pass rush moves, but he can also set an edge for us on our defense, and it’s no secret we play multiple schemes with Wink as our defensive coordinator, and we envision Kayvon being able to do a lot of different things for us,” Daboll said. “He’s going to have to come in here and earn it, but a productive player the time he’s been at Oregon.”