Note: This is the first installment of a series in which the staff at Pride of Detroit makes the case for several different options for the Detroit Lions’ second overall pick. First up, Kayvon Thibodeaux.
We’re at the point in draft season where folks tend to overthink things. It seems even worse this year given the Lions’ need for talent at so many different positions and the ensuing lack of clarity over who’s in play at second overall. There are legitimately six or seven guys who seem like fair game at two, and you could make a strong case for all of them. So, let’s make the strongest case of them all, Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Thibs is an absolute no-brainer at two. Not only is he an elite athlete, but he’s got the production on tape to back it up. Thibodeaux made a lot of impact that won’t necessarily show up in the box score after being given the Rashan Gary treatment for much of the past two seasons.
Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE) beating the double team at the point of attack and blows up the run in the backfield pic.twitter.com/NbOhkzixMt— NFL Prospect Clips (@NflProspectClip) April 12, 2022
Oh look, here he is in the same game driving two linemen right into the quarterback’s lap.
This won’t show up on the stat sheet but watch Kayvon Thibodeaux destroy this double team . Possible first overall pick. pic.twitter.com/cfLReuh0RE— The 4 Man Rush (@4ourmanrush) October 2, 2021
At this point in the draft cycle, I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t know—Thibodeaux is very much in play at two. The real question is why him as opposed to the plethora of others who are just as warranted with that pick? After all, Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker, Kyle Hamilton, and so many more players have elite RAS scores and great tape, so why Thibs?
For me, it’s the longevity of his production. Both other edge rushers in contention (Hutchinson and Walker) really burst onto the scene this year. With Walker, it even feels like a bit of a bet on upside in a way that reminds me of a more athletic Nick Fairley, and that’s not a good thing. If you look at the 2022 mock drafts from a year ago this time, Kayvon Thibodeaux is a top two or three pick in almost all of them, and that matters. Thibodeaux’s rise isn’t reactionary or betting on traits, it’s based on consistent production—which happens to be a great predictor for future success.
This is, in my view, quite concerning for Travon Walker -- who had just an 8% pressure rate in college.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) April 7, 2022
Here's where he, Hutchinson, Thibodeaux and Bonitto (!) stand on the x axis of this chart. pic.twitter.com/NVrN70TJhe
The draft is a crapshoot and there’s no such thing as a “lock,” so when you get production out of a player that puts them in the discussion for the first overall pick for more than one year, that’s something to make note of. Likewise, when you consider the positional value of the draft picks in play, EDGE is definitely the cream of the crop compared to safety, corner, or really any other relevant position aside from quarterback.
Now, let’s talk about the biggest alleged detractor in Thibodeaux’s case: his so-called “effort problems.” First of all, it’s well established that these concerns are overblown, and frankly I’ve yet to see more than one or two of the same clips to back up these claims. It suddenly became an issue post-combine after putting up two seasons that warranted Thibs’ name at the top of the draft, and that should tell you all you need to know. If you’re really concerned, do a quick twitter search for “thibodeaux effort” and you’ll find plenty of videos like this one showing you why that narrative is false.
Is there video evidence of Kayvon Thibodeaux's "effort issues" because there's a lot of plays like this on his tape pic.twitter.com/eJZrIdxMn5— No Flags Film (@NoFlagsFilm) April 8, 2022
I’ll close with this: if a prospect can play with partial effort and warrant the first overall pick, then frankly that’s a talent you don’t pass up. Let’s not overthink it—Kayvon Thibodeaux is the right guy at number two.