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Jets Rumors: Kayvon Thibodeaux Visit 'Went Extremely Well'; NYJ 'Sorting Its Board'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 19, 2022

AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, file

The New York Jets and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux reportedly had a positive meeting ahead of the 2022 NFL draft.

As part of his second NFL mock draft, NFL Network's Peter Schrager projected Thibodeaux to go fourth overall to the Jets. As part of his analysis, Schrager noted that the meeting between Thibodeaux and the Jets went "extremely well," although he added the team is still "sorting its board."

In Schrager's mock, Thibodeaux is the third defensive end off the board behind Georgia's Travon Walker and Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson, whom he has going to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, respectively, at Nos. 1 and 2 overall.

Entering last season, Thibodeaux was considered a strong candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2022 draft.

Part of the reason why Thibodeaux isn't the slam dunk No. 1 overall pick may be that his production didn't always match his talent level in college.

After recording nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss as a freshman, Thibodeaux didn't touch those numbers again. The truncated 2020 schedule saw Thibodeaux appear in only seven games, but last season he played in 10 games and finished with seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

In many ways, Thibodeaux feels similar to Jadeveon Clowney, who went first overall to the Houston Texans in 2014 despite having only three sacks in his final collegiate season.

The move worked out to some degree, as Clowney is a three-time Pro Bowler, but he has never reached double-digit sacks in a season.

Despite that comparison, Thibodeaux would be difficult for the Jets to pass up at No. 4, especially since they have such an obvious need on the edge.

New York tied for 25th in the NFL last season with 33 sacks, which likely didn't sit well with head coach Robert Saleh, whose units fed off pressuring quarterbacks during his time as the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator.

The Jets' three leading sack artists last season were Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers and Sheldon Rankins. While Franklin-Myers can play inside or outside, all were technically defensive tackles.

That speaks to the Jets' immense need to bring in someone who can wreak havoc from the edge, and Thibodeaux undoubtedly has that ability.

The return of Carl Lawson after missing all of 2021 with a torn Achilles could help, although his 5.5 sacks in 2020 and 20 sacks in four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals suggest he isn't an elite pass-rusher.

Thibodeaux has a chance to be precisely that, which makes him a strong candidate to go No. 4 to the Jets.

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