Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon DE | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Despite rumors of sliding stock, Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux has a scouting report worthy of the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Once considered the clear consensus top player in the 2022 NFL Draft, Kayvon Thibodeaux has been the subject of limitless pre-draft rumors. Despite these, he’s remained at the top of Pro Football Network’s Top 300 Big Board. Whether you believe that the Oregon DE is sliding down draft boards or not, there’s no denying that Thibodeaux’s scouting report showcases a skill set that should easily elevate whatever team selects him.

Kayvon Thibodeaux NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Edge Rusher
  • School: Oregon
  • Current Year: Junior
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 254 pounds
  • Wingspan: 79 1/2″
  • Arm: 33 1/8″
  • Hand: 9 3/4″

Kayvon Thibodeaux Scouting Report

As the 2022 NFL Draft cycle has developed, it’s clear that the EDGE class is deep with talent. It might lack a “generational” prospect such as Chase Young in 2020, but there’s an expectation that as many as five edge players could be selected within the first 10 picks. Within a group like that, competition will always be fierce. Has Thibodeaux got the talent to emerge as the first pass rusher picked at the end of the month?

The answer, according to his scouting report, is yes. While he might not be the untouchable prospect some consider — there are areas for improvement on his report — Thibodeaux has many of the requisite traits to be an outstanding defensive player in the NFL. He’s the top prospect on the PFN Top 300 Big Board for a reason.

The highlight of Thibodeaux’s scouting report is his impressive athletic profile. There might not be a more explosive pass rusher in the class. The Oregon defensive prospect has a ludicrous first step. Whether stood up or with his hand in the ground, his ability to explode out of his stance is nightmare fuel for opposition offensive linemen.

Athleticism is made up of multiple components. One of them is speed, which Thibodeaux has routinely demonstrated. The speed with which he gets into the backfield, fueled by his initial burst, is exceptional. The Oregon defensive demon also showcases excellent pursuit speed against the run. Much is made of his pass-rush prowess, but Thibodeaux is also impressive in the ground game.

Athleticism, power, and passion

Lateral agility is another component of athleticism, and Thibodeaux is impressive here, too. As a pass rusher, he can quickly switch from attacking the outside track to pressurizing the interior. Against the run, the Oregon defensive prospect can scrape laterally across the formation, allowing him to flow to the ball smoothly and quickly.

As a pass rusher, Thibodeaux excels in a number of ways. He showcases excellent power in his hands and can convert speed to power exceptionally well. Furthermore, he’s demonstrated the ability to effectively use his hands and length to win at the point of attack. Throw in his ability to bend and Thibodeaux is a dangerous menace as a pass rusher.

Numerous NFL Draft reports have questioned Thibodeaux’s effort — this isn’t apparent on tape. In the games studied, the Oregon prospect played 100% on 100% of plays. He played through injury when he could’ve easily sat the season with his stock appearing relatively secure.

Meanwhile, he offers versatility as a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 defensive end, depending on the need of the NFL team that lands him. Off the field, he appears to be a highly intelligent, driven, and motivated individual. He has spoken at length about using his platform to help support his local neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles.

Areas for improvement

While Thibodeaux’s scouting report showcases the talent to be a top-10 2022 NFL Draft selection, he isn’t the perfect prospect. They genuinely don’t exist. There are areas for improvement for the Oregon defensive starlet. Nonetheless, there’s nothing to warrant the slide down draft boards that have been reported.

During his college career, Thibodeaux has relied on winning with his sheer explosion and deployment of speed to power. While this has been successful, he will need to consistently deploy other tools of the trade to succeed in the NFL. The Oregon Duck has exhibited some tools in his arsenal, but he needs to refine them and use them more often.

Although Thibodeaux’s speed and agility mean he can win off the edge, he needs to ensure that he keeps his balance. There were several examples on tape where he loses his footing as he bends around the edge, leaving some production on the table. This could be the result of great (rather than elite) bend.

Finally, one of the concerns related to the reported slide in his stock has centered around his weight. There’s no denying that Thibodeaux is a more slender pass-rush prospect than some. Adding — and retaining — a little muscle mass will help him cope with the rigors of the NFL game compared to college. It will also help his ability to win with power at the next level.

Thibodeaux’s Player Profile

It feels like Thibodeaux has been primed for NFL Draft greatness forever. The former five-star recruit was the second-ranked weakside defensive end in the 2019 recruiting class, the second-best player in the nation, and the best player in California. Furthermore, 247 Sports ranked him the 49th-best player in their history of ranking high school recruits.

It’s clear why Thibodeaux was so highly regarded coming out of high school. A man amongst boys at 6’5″, the athletic defensive end was cut from a different cloth than everyone he faced. As a sophomore at Dorsey High School, he was named the CIF Los Angeles City Section Division I Defensive Lineman of the Year after logging 17 sacks and 27 tackles for loss.

As impressive as that performance was, Thibodeaux would elevate his game as a junior. Transferring to Oaks Christian High School, he registered 99 tackles, 20 sacks, and 28 tackles for loss. Additionally, he flexed positional versatility by snagging 9 receptions, 134 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns as a tight end. An unstoppable force, Thibodeaux earned multiple Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Meanwhile, he helped power Oaks Christian to a Division II title.

Thibodeaux ends his high school career in dominant fashion

Thibodeaux wrapped up his high school career in now trademark dominant style. During his final season, he tallied 54 tackles, 18 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles. The outstanding production took him to 54 sacks in four years and earned him the Californian Defensive Player of the Year Award. Furthermore, he was named a first-team All-American.

During this time, a fierce battle raged to secure his college football commitment. Thibodeaux received over 25 offers. Narrowing down his options, he visited Alabama, Florida, FSU, and Oregon. Following the conclusion of his high school career, he committed to Oregon, stating at the time:

“There were a lot of reasons why I chose Oregon. I have a great comfort level with the coaching staff, and I know I can go there and get developed. Oregon wanted me as a defensive end, and that’s where I’m comfortable. They want me with my hand in the ground, off the edge, rushing the passer.”

Thibodeaux’s career at Oregon

The transition from high school to college isn’t always easy, but Thibodeaux proved immediately comfortable as a defensive end for Oregon. Actually, comfortable doesn’t quite describe it. He proved to be destructive and downright dangerous for the Ducks as a true freshman in 2019.

Although he’s only credited with making five starts, he played in all 14 games during his first season. He registered 1 tackle on his debut against Auburn, but the potential from the explosive pass rusher was plain to see.

The production would come soon after. In Thibodeaux’s fifth appearance (against Cal), he made his mark. Earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors, he racked up 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and his first and only career forced fumble. It was the first of multiple 2+ sack games. In the Pac-12 Championship Game, he set a game record with 2.5 sacks against Utah, blocking a punt in the process.

He was as advertised

The Oregon defensive end set program records for sacks by a freshman and led the team with 14 tackles for loss. His 9 sacks were also the most by a Pac-12 freshman since 2009. Unsurprisingly, Thibodeaux was named the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, a consensus Freshman All-American, and earned first-team All-Pac-12 recognition from the Associated Press.

Amongst all the uncertainty of the Pac-12’s 2020 season, it would have been easy for Thibodeaux to suffer a sophomore slump.

Yet, the Oregon defensive end’s relentless pursuit of excellence continued last year. He added another 42 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 3 pass deflections to his résumé. He also led the team in sacks and tackles for loss for the second consecutive season. Additionally, he led the Pac-12 in quarterback pressures and hurries.

As he had in his freshman season, Thibodeaux once again demonstrated a penchant for the big game. The Oregon DE was named the Pac-12 Championship Game MVP after logging 12 hurries, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack — the Ducks defeated USC. Although the season would end with defeat against Iowa State, Thibodeaux secured first-team All-Pac 12 recognition. Moreover, he earned second-team All-American status by multiple outlets.

Thibodeaux’s NFL Draft ascension

As a result of his performances in his first two collegiate seasons, Thibodeaux entered the 2021 college football season as the top prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, in the season opener against Fresno State, he suffered a sprained ankle injury after tallying 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, and a forced fumble.

The injury cost him the opportunity to shine on the national stage against Ohio State. He also missed the game against Stony Brook before returning on a limited snap count against Arizona. Thibodeaux tallied a tackle for loss in games against Stanford and Cal before a standout performance with 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble against UCLA.

Limited to 10 games, Thibodeaux still recorded 12 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in 2021. Furthermore, the Oregon prospect earned consensus All-American honors while being named a finalist for multiple defensive awards. Following the season, he declared for the 2022 NFL Draft as a presumptive first overall pick.

Despite this, there have been multiple reports of a potential slide for Thibodeaux on opening night of the 2022 NFL Draft as the pre-draft process has evolved. As mentioned below, some have questioned his motor and love of football. Turn on the tape, however, and you’ll find a player with all the ability to be a dominant pass rusher at the NFL level.

Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Kayvon Thibodeaux

Positives: Game-impacting pass rusher with tremendous versatility. Athletic, forceful, and strong. Quick off the snap, agile, and works his hands to get off blocks. Fluid when asked to twist or stunt, gets depth on pass drops in space, and shows speed in backside pursuit. Fundamentally sound, rarely off his feet, and consistently plays with outstanding pad level.

Attracts a lot of double-team blocks, creates opportunities for teammates, and stays with assignments. Bends off the edge, immediately changes direction, and alters his angle of attack. Strong for his size and displays a variety of moves to get off blocks.

Negatives: Lacks bulk and gets out-positioned by larger opponents. Has been knocked for not consistently playing hard and giving up on plays. Questions have arisen surrounding his love of football.

Analysis: Thibodeaux is a game-impacting defensive front-seven player who can come out of a three-point stance or stand over tackle. When motivated and hitting on all cylinders, he can be impossible to stop as a pass rusher and in pursuit. Thibodeaux possesses tremendous upside and can be a long-time productive starter in the NFL if he makes football a priority in his life and remains focused on the task at hand.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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