2022 NFL Draft Rumors: Kayvon Thibodeaux's 'Fire' Questioned; Could Fall Out of Top 5

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIFebruary 5, 2022

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 27: Oregon Ducks DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) reacts after making a tackle during a PAC-12 conference football game between the Oregon State Beavers and Oregon Ducks on November 27, 2021 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ESPN's Todd McShay threw some cold water on the idea that Oregon edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has long been projected as a strong candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, could even land in the top five.

Reporting from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, McShay said there were questions about his competitive fire relative to other prospects:

"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."

Thibodeaux took note of the report and responded on Twitter:

Kayvon Thibodeaux @kayvont

Believe in yourself, even if you’re the only one💯🤷🏽‍♂️ <a href="https://t.co/YpFZarHgNQ">https://t.co/YpFZarHgNQ</a>

Thibodeaux had 49 tackles and seven sacks in 10 games for the Ducks last season.

Some people at the Senior Bowl may be down on Thibodeaux relative to commentary on where he may land in April, but there's frankly a lot of positives in his game.

There isn't a shortage of draft analysts who have raved about Thibodeaux's potential.

The latest big board from the B/R NFL Scouting Department lists Thibodeaux as the top player in the draft class. He was the only player to receive a grade above nine out of 10 on the grading scale, and he's also listed as the best speed-rusher in the class.

"Thibodeaux can be a good player in any scheme right out of the gate and has the long-term potential to be an All-Pro," Derrik Klassen wrote.

He's also No. 1 on CBS Sports' big board, and Danny Kelly of The Ringer has him leading the pack as well.

"Thibodeaux is an ascending pass rusher with rare traits; he's long, explosive, and can bend around the corner and get to the quarterback," Kelly wrote in part. "He's still scratching the surface of his potential."

Pro Football Focus is also a big fan, ranking him second overall in the class behind only Michigan edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson.

"Thibodeaux is an explosive, long and bendy edge rusher who's only just scratching the surface of what he could be," PFF wrote. "Thibodeaux has a 91.5 pass-rushing grade and 46 pressures this season, even with a limited set of pass-rush moves."

Top-tier pass rushers were everywhere to be found in this year's playoffs, with players such as the San Francisco 49ers' Nick Bosa, the Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald and the Cincinnati Bengals' Trey Hendrickson dominating games. 

Thibodeaux can be that type of game- and season-altering player for a team in the NFL. For now, he'll roll through the predraft process before the draft itself begins April 28.