The New York Giants have been in search of their true alpha at edge defender and after finishing tied for 22nd in sacks last season knew it was an area that needed to be addressed early in the 2022 draft. With their first selection in the first round, the Giants were able to land the former University of Oregon stand-out Kayvon Thibodeaux to reignite a once-feared pass rush.
ESPN’s Mike Clay believes Thibodeaux will make an immediate impact. In his rookie stat leader projections, he projects Thibodeaux will finish top three in rookie sack total at 7.0
Clay went on to describe the rookie pash rushers.
From 2012-21, 11 edge rushers were selected in the top-five picks. They included Myles Garrett (7.0 sacks as a rookie), Jadeveon Clowney (0.0), Chase Young(7.5), Nick Bosa (9.0), Joey Bosa (10.5), Dion Jordan (2.0), Dante Fowler Jr. (0.0), Clelin Ferrell (4.5), Bradley Chubb (12.0), Ezekiel Ansah (8.0) and Khalil Mack (4.0). That group averaged 5.9 sacks during their rookie seasons — and it rises to 6.5 if we exclude Fowler, who tore his ACL before the season.
The sack projections for Walker, Hutchinson and Thibodeaux (all top-five picks) would rank in the top 20 first-round picks over the past decade. Speaking of first-round picks, Karlaftis has a path to a starting role opposite Frank Clark in Kansas City, whereas Johnson will battle Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers for edge work in New York.
According to Clay, these figures were processed not only by the league, coaching, and player trends but also took into account projected place in the depth chart and role.
Thibodeaux is surrounded by several players who should help the Giants pressure opposing quarterbacks. As a rookie, Azeez Ojulari finished with eight sacks and was considered a breakout candidate for 2022 according to PFF. With Leonard Williams leading the team in pressures and Dexter Lawerence showing good ability in pass-rush situations, multiple positions up front can help take the pressure off Thibodeaux and help him get better matchups to get after the opposing QB.
Thibodeaux will also get help from a scheme dedicated to getting after the quarterback in a hurry. New defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves the Giants’ top selection and thinks he is a lab-built edge for his system. The exotic blitz packages Martindale likes to scheme should help Thibodeaux and other Giant defenders end up in advantageous situations to get to the quarterback.
Expectations are massive around the league for Thibodeaux to make an immediate impact. If all goes right in this system could Thibodeaux exceed expectations and surpass Ojulari’s franchise rookie sack record?