Kayvon Thibodeaux Is Tumbling Down NFL Draft Boards

Going into the 2021 college football season, there seemed to be a clear choice for the No. 1 overall pick for the 2022 NFL Draft. That prospect was of course the dynamic Oregon pass rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux. As we approach the middle of February though, it appears that some teams may not be as sold on Thibodeaux as they were in August-September.

A big reason for this is the emergence of Aidan Hutchinson towards the end of the Michigan Wolverine season. Of course, Hutch shocked the world with an incredible performance in Michigan’s victory over Ohio State in the Big Ten East title game. He recorded seven tackles and three sacks over the course of that game, and there really wasn’t a single passing down where he didn’t generate some sort of pressure. By the end of the season, he had the third-most sacks in all of NCAA football with 14. Thibodeaux recorded half that total with seven.

As early as December, there were places catching onto this trend, dropping Thibodeaux down to fourth or fifth overall in their mock drafts. Most recently, PFF put out a mock draft where the former Duck freefalls all the way down to the eighth pick to the Atlanta Falcons. Also notable, the Minnesota Vikings landed Purdue EDGE George Karlaftis in this mock. I recently named him my EDGE3 in this draft class.

So sure, Hutchinson’s rise may cause Thibodeaux to fall out of the number one spot, but why would he tumble down to the latter half of the top 10? Well, this past Sunday Todd McShay shared some of his thoughts on the top draft prospect via Bleacher Report:

“I heard a lot about Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, including concerns that he just doesn’t play with the same fire as some other top prospects. His ceiling is high, but the floor is lower than what you want for a top-five pick. And based on a handful of conversations, it wouldn’t shock me if Thibodeaux fell out of the top five. Speaking of which, it was very apparent this week that the top of the draft isn’t nearly as set as it normally is at this point. Picks at the top of the first round might be a little more based on team flavor than recent years.”

With Thibodeaux’s stock dropping at a fast rate, what are the odds the Vikings end up selecting him? Well, even with his stock falling, I don’t think there’s any way that he should fall out of the top 10. If he does, the Vikings could end up getting the steal of the 21st century at the position. There are teams in need of EDGE outside of that top-10, particularly the Denver Broncos at No. 9. If he gets past Denver, then the possibilities become extremely real with the New York Jets and Washington Commanders being the only teams ahead of Minnesota. The Vikings could also move up to No. 9 and ensure that they get the EDGE1, but they’d likely have to give up No. 12 and either No. 77 or a future Day Two pick in order to make it happen. Feels like a lot to give up when you could simply just address a different need with that first round pick.

Personally, I don’t think either scenario happens. The same questions about Thibodeaux’s effort and maturity were ones that surrounded both Justin Herbert and Penei Sewell as they entered the draft. Both were Oregon Ducks, and both have gotten off to terrific starts in their NFL careers. Thibodeaux should end up as a top five selection. As for the Vikings, I don’t think they would make this trade given the need at corner as well as the interior offensive line. They could get a starting caliber CB in the first round, and even if they don’t land a pass-rusher here, they will have their choice of many EDGEs and IOLs in the following two rounds. Keep the draft capital and build the young core.