The Giants surprised everyone last Thursday by making Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux the fifth overall pick in the draft. It came at a time when there was persistent buzz that the one-time favorite to go first overall would slide out of the top 10.
GM Joe Schoen recently addressed with #PFTPM the noise surrounding Thibodeaux.
“There weren’t many negatives going through the process,” Schoen said. “Again just everybody is different in terms of personality and how you are in certain settings. He’s a guy we spent a lot of time with from the Combine, to go take him out to dinner, his Pro Day, to bringing him in, Zooms with him, FaceTimes. We spent a lot of time with him. He’s always had good grades in school. He’s never been in trouble. He’s a hard worker. He had an ankle injury this year. A lot of people that are gonna be high picks easily could have hung it up and called it a season, but this kid fought back. I have practiced through it. He eventually came back and played late in the season.”
Schoen chalked up the chatter about Thibodeaux to “the draft season and the misinformation that gets out there.”
“It’s unfortunate but we did a lot of research,” Schoen said. “We felt comfortable with the kid and we obviously were comfortable with the player. We think he’s gonna be a good fit for us.”
I joked with Schoen about the possibility that the talk of Thibodeaux slipping out of the top 10 came from a team just outside the top 10 that hoped to snag him. Schoen acknowledged that possibility, and he said the Giants were concerned that teams drafting lower in the round were possibly going to trade up. That’s why they opted for Thibodeaux at No. 5, instead of waiting until they were back on the clock at No. 7.
“We had heard again the way it worked out there were some teams that were behind us that were targeting that six range,” Schoen said. “Carolina had a one and a four [and no second- or third-round pick]. Would they maybe move back if a team trades up into six? We had definitely heard teams behind us were interested in him.”
Schoen and the Giants were paying close attention to how the top picks fell. If the Jaguars had taken Aidan Hutchinson, would the Jaguars have selected Thibodeaux or Travon Walker? After Thibodeaux got past three and four, they decided not to risk a team jumping to six before they could jump on him at seven.
As it stands, one of the most gregarious and entertaining prospects in this year’s draft goes to the biggest media market in the world. Did the Giants weigh Thibodeaux’s ability to thrive in the New York market as a factor in their overall assessment?
“Yeah, and I think it does for every team,” Schoen said. “When I was down in Miami with the Dolphins that was always something. ‘Can I handle South Beach? Would this kid be able to survive in Miami? How will he be in that scene?’ Then you go to Buffalo some people [say], ‘Hey, that’s the ideal place for him because there’s not as much going on or a player.’ Whichever team you’re in or whatever city you’re in, you always take in the environment, the outside surroundings. You’ve got to think, ‘Will this player be able to succeed? Will football still be important to him?’ Again, Kayvon’s from LA There’s plenty of stuff going on in LA He grew up in that environment, big city. I think he’ll just be fine in New York and we’re comfortable with that fit.”
It will become interesting if he struggles and faces aggressive questions from reporters about his performance. He seems like the kind of guy who can and will stand up for himself, who will push back against flawed presumptions or faulty narratives.
However it goes, those who cover the Giants will be constantly paying attention to what Thibodeaux says and does. Beyond the abilities he brings to the field, he arrives with the kind of personality that makes it a lot easier for the media to fulfill its objective to inform and entertain.