2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Kayvon Thibodeaux Scouting Report

July 7, 2021 1:00 AM EST

Kayvon Thibodeaux Scouting Report picture

School: Oregon

Height: 6'5"

Weight: 250

Eligibility: JR

Uniform: #5

Position: EDGE

Evaluated by: Austin Smith
Twitter: NFLDraftAustin
July 6, 2021

Prospect Overview

2019: 13 G, 35 tackles, 14 TFL, 9 sacks, 1 FF, 3 PD
2020: 7 G, 42 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 PD

A five-star prospect that many had ranked at the top of their boards coming out of high school, Thibodeaux wasted no time making his presence felt on Oregon's defense. He played in every game as a freshman, leading the team in sacks and tackles for loss.

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Thibodeaux really came on in his final six games with 6.5 sacks and ten tackles for loss, leading to him garnering Freshman All-American accolades, as well as All-Pac 12 honors. His nine sacks tied for 26th in the nation.

In Oregon's shortened schedule last fall, Thibodeaux managed just three sacks but continued to wreak havoc in the backfield against the run. In fact, his 42 tackles in seven games were the most of any defensive lineman in the conference. Once again, he earned conference accolades, including the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12's top defensive lineman. He was also chosen on multiple All-American teams and was named MVP of the Pac-12 Championship.

Thibodeaux has been a monster in the last two Pac-12 Title Games. He's accounted for 18 quarterback pressures, ten tackles, including 4.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. He is widely regarded as one of the top draft-eligible prospects in the nation heading into his junior year. Another year of development and eye-popping production should cement his place in the conversation for the top overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft should he comes out.


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When Thibodeaux stepped into college football, many touted him as an exceptional athlete for his size, and he has not disappointed. His explosion off the snap is tremendous as he comes out low and balanced while accelerating quickly. There is no doubt in my mind that he should blow us away with his 10-yard split in the pre-draft process, and his ability to chase down plays from the backside bodes well for his long speed too. That lower body power and balance also show up when he chooses to go through his opponent as opposed to around them.

Because of his exceptional balance, which derives from his pad-level and the strength in his core and lower body, the guy can transition that burst into power that can give his opponent's problems. He can rock his opponent backward simply because of the ability to shift direction into them before they adjust their balance and get their hands on him, and Thibodeaux has enough strength thanks to his leg drive to get movement. As I mentioned, his ability to change direction is a big part of that and a mostly untapped resource that we didn't see him do a lot of until late in the 2020 season. Still, his ability to change his angle without losing steam will give opposing linemen headaches on the edge.

Thibodeaux flashed the ability to commit to the edge within his first three steps before sticking a foot in the ground and continuing to accelerate to the opposite shoulder. Because he continuously accelerates, it's tough for linemen not to sell out to stop him from winning the edge, and he will be able to feast on that with more development.I also love his activity at the point of attack. When Thibodeaux gets his hands on his opponent, his feet drive, and his eyes get into the backfield. Then, once he has spotted the ball, his hands get violent, and he disengages well, which may be one of his most underrated qualities. For a player that may be a 3-4 outside linebacker, the ability to get off blocks consistently is going to be vital. He's checked that box for those interested in him standing up in the base defense.

Thibodeaux also shows terrific discipline in the run game. He doesn't abandon his outside responsibilities when setting an edge. He also routinely checks for bootlegs and reverses before pursuing from the backside. In fact, his awareness is pretty sound across the board. He spots draws quickly when the offensive lineman purposefully gives him a pass set in order to draw him upfield. I've yet to see a screen to his side of the field fool him as well. Thibodeaux knows his keys and has a feel for the game that rarely lets him down.

Areas for Improvement

I believe his size and arm length will be above average come time for measurements, but he needs to continue adding weight and strength. His speed and change-of-direction abilities can catch linemen off guard, but the push usually comes to an end once they recover. Thibodaux also does a good job of winning the edge when he's got a step of separation to turn the corner. However, when he has to turn the corner through contact, he can give ground allowing the quarterback to stay out of his grasp.

I also think he is just scratching the surface when considering all the ways he can to the quarterback. For example, his hand activity is much more advanced at shedding blocks in the run game than when he is on the attack against the pass. Also, I've rarely seen him use strategies like a rip or swim move or even a push-pull concept. I also think he could continue to get more out of that burst by implementing some hesitation moves to set tackles up.

Also, I've rarely seen him use strategies like a rip or swim move or even a push-pull concept. I also think he could continue to get more out of that burst by implementing some hesitation moves to set tackles up.

If Thibodeaux starts picking up some of these techniques, or heaven-forbid, a spin move, it's going to make him a terror to deal with in obvious passing scenarios. Added strength will help him in this area too.

Another area that can improve is his ability to finish. I think he gets a little too excited because while his pad-level is so good off the snap, he tends to pop up when he gets to the ball.

I really do think it's nerves, but he has to learn to break down in these situations. He should have stopped the play for minimal yardage on several screens, but that wasn't the case because he played too high and his tackle attempt was either broken or flat out missed.

It has at the quarterback as well. I know defenders can hit the quarterbacks too low, but I'd like to see his aiming point be lower towards the midsection. Up higher around the chest and shoulders, strong quarterbacks will fight through an attempt, or you run the risk of contact to the helmet.

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Draft Stock

Pass rushers are a premium in the NFL, and ones with Thibodeaux's kind of rare athleticism typically don't fall out of the top ten. He's put up excellent numbers in his first two years, and if we see him take it to another level as a junior, I'd be shocked to see him return to Oregon.

Thibodeaux's also a versatile player that could start as an end in a 4-3 alignment or an outside linebacker in an odd-man front. He has that kind of versatility, and I've even seen a few reps where he dropped into coverage.

There's a clear passion for the game and success that Thibodeaux exudes, and his teammates and coaches back up that notion. He sets his goals high, and while the media and hype around him do as well, he does a good job blocking that stuff out. He has a confidence about him that shows up when he speaks, but I wouldn't call it arrogance because of his work ethic. The work he's put into adding weight was evident from year one to two, and it sounds like Thibodeaux will be even bigger as a junior.

He's also got a proven track record of work ethic with his studies as he graduated with a 3.8 GPA from high school. Thibodeaux is also an accomplished chess player and chose Oregon for their journalism program. Overall, he's driven, focused, and confident in himself. Add that to his physical traits, and the result will likely be one of the top defensive prospects in the 2022 class, assuming his junior year goes well.

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Player Comparison

I'm going to spit out a few names here because different elements of his game are reminiscent of some of the better pass rushers we've seen in recent years. The size and athleticism remind me of Von Miller right off the bat. Thibodeaux is listed as six feet, five inches, but that may be a bit generous. Still, like Miller, he entered college football with a slender frame and has continuously added bulk through his career while the athleticism hasn't taken a hit. Like Miller, I think his best fit may be standing up in the NFL in a base defense. This gives him a little more separation from his opponent, negating some of the wear and tear that comes with lining up in the trenches with your hand on the ground.

The explosion off the snap is also very reminiscent of Jadeveon Clowney coming out of South Carolina. Clowney's ability to fire off the snap low and accelerate past blockers was impressive, and Thibodeaux's aptitude to do the same is evident on tape. I'm going to throw one more name out as well. I believe he can add some more bulk to his frame. If I'm right, he could end up being a very similar player to what Robert Mathis was. Thibodeaux is taller than Mathis, but neither has/had overwhelming length. Still, the burst and acceleration really stood out for Mathis, and if Thibodeaux can add to his pass-rush repertoire and bulk up, I think we could see a similar player to the NFL's all-time leader in strip-sacks.

Games Evaluated

  • vs Utah (12-6-19)
  • vs Stanford (11-7-20)
  • at Washington State (11-14-20)
  • vs UCLA (11-21-20)
  • at California (12-5-20)
  • at USC (12-18-20)
  • vs Iowa State (1-2-21)

Notes from Film

  • Tall, somewhat slender build with above average arm length. Put on more bulk in his upper body over year two but lower half appears to be on the slender side.
  • His explosion off the line is extremely impressive. He can accelerate in a hurry and it makes him a tough player to block. Not only does it show up when he's attempting to blow by his opponent, but he can fire right into his opponent's and get his hands on them before they are ready to take him on. Another example is the blocked punt against Utah in 2019. This guy is likely going to impress us with his straight-line speed during the pre-draft process.
  • You'd think that his slender build would hinder his ability to get physical with opposing tackles. But not only does his explosion help him drive players off balance, but he fires off the snap low helping his cause. He's giving Stanford's left tackle fits early with this ability. Got a good punch on him before disengaging and running down the line of scrimmage for a tackle. Drove him backwards on the next play to force a draw the other way. On a similar note, his leg drive is pretty impressive when he's attempting to bull rush his opponent.
  • Early on, he is showing good awareness in the run game. He does a good job of keeping his head up while attacking the blocker, and it allows him to keep his eyes in the backfield. However, you can tell he has a knack for picking up on the blocker's agenda quickly. He reads the blockers initial steps, and quickly adjusts to beat him on his assignment. This puts him in position to get involved.
  • Terrific job reading a jailbreak screen quickly and pursuing down the line. Just needs to breakdown at the point of attack in order to make the tackle. If he does, it's a third down stop instead of a first down. Still, his ability to accelerate in pursuit is something that scouts will consider when debating if he can stand up as a linebacker in the NFL.
  • I've seen him play on the edge with his hand on the ground and standing, but it appears Oregon also occasionally lines him up at a more traditional linebacker position. Against Stanford, he lined five yards deep over the H-back on a double-tight end side. He dropped into coverage before breaking on the throw to the flats to the fullback and looked comfortable in that task.
  • On a separate occasion, he lined up at defensive end and dropped into coverage. While he's definitely got the mobility, he's got to get his head around. It's clear he was dropping into a zone, and you have to glance backwards to identify where a route may be coming from, but he flat out turned his back to the quarterback and never looked back. Quick glance then turn your eyes back to the passer as your drop.
  • One rep against UCLA, Thibodeaux dropped and was responsible for the running back in man coverage. Not a bad job of sinking his hips in accordance to the running back breaking toward the middle of the field, but the back was setting him up for an outward-breaking route. If the quarterback had thrown it that direction, the back had good separation. Still, it's telling that Oregon trusts him in man coverage.
  • He can really win the edge with speed, and has the ability to turn the corner with a low pad level and good torso flexibility.
  • Another example of him not breaking down in the Washington State game where was one on one with the quarterback in the hole. Once again, he didn't breakdown and wait for the quarterback to make the first move. He missed the tackle again.
  • Liam Ryan and Abe Lucas gave him some issues with their strength. He was able to have some success attacking one side or the other, but bull rushing them was mostly ineffective. I'd like to see him show more diversity in these situations.
  • He saw several double teams against UCLA. There were also several reps where his blocker could have been called for a hold. In those scenarios, he still pushed to make plays but never could finish. While he added weight from his freshman season, he will need to continue to get stronger in order to be the kind of consistent finisher that NFL teams will want to see from him.
  • The 2.5 sacks against Utah in 2019 were impressive. On one play showed pure hustle with the ability accelerate to chase down a very mobile quarterback for what should have been considered another sack. The first 1.5 sacks were an impressive example of his ability to change direction while rushing. He shifted inside and fought through the contact on one with a strong finish, while using a great swim on the guard on the other. On the final one, he just flat at blew by his opponent and turned the corner. This game provided his most versatile pass-rush repertoire I've seen from him.
  • Love how active he was in the California came. His hands were active. His second efforts had purpose and he got several tackles because of them. Had an impressive move on the goal line to force a third down. He plays with a good motor, but this game was really impressive as he looked like the best player on the field.
  • He is really firing off the ball hard against USC. Alijah Vera-Tucker gave him some issues on the first drive with good power, but against the right tackle, he beat him with his burst off the snap. Also, looked impressive turning up field and converting speed to power on a stunt, and flat out blew by a guard on another snap for a TFL.
  • Speaking of Vera-Tucker, those two battled quite a bit in the game, and it was fun to watch. On one rep late in the third quarter. Thibodeaux got a great jump on the snap on back to back plays and there was nothing AVT could do. This is mid first-round pick we are talking about. That's how impressive Thibodeaux can be.
  • Shows good awareness of the timing of pass plays. Understands when continuing to rush is pointless and looks to get his hands up. Only has six deflections in his career but has come close on several other occasions.
  • I like his discipline on the backside. He has the speed to run down players from the backside, but he always hesitates that second to make sure the ball was handed off and there is nothing brewing that depends on him to sell out in pursuit. Very smart player not to be baited into allowing a trick play like a reverse.
  • Does not allow blockers to stay on him for too long. He extends his arms and gets active whether it's his hands or his feet. I've rarely seen a play end with someone attached to him, although the tight end from UCLA did compete hard to stay on him.

Scouting Video Courtesy of Sports Productions

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