Is There Any Reason Not To Take Kayvon Thibodeaux No. 1?

Photo: Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard] / USA TODAY NETWORK

Coming into the season, Kayvon Thibodeaux was one of the highest-rated players in the country. He hasn’t disappointed. In fact, he’s exceeded the expectations of many. 

Leaving the powerhouse Oaks Christian High School in Thousand Oaks, CA, he was the top-ranked player in the ESPN 300. After enrolling at Oregon, his freshman season was sensational. He set the freshman record and led the team with nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss—earning freshman All-American honors and a nod on the All-Pac-12 team. His sophomore season was the “asterisk” year due to COVID, but it couldn’t stop his production. He led Oregon in sacks (3) and tackles for loss (9.5) for the second consecutive year. He also led the Pac-12 in pressures and hurries. He played his biggest in big moments, particularly the Pac-12 Championship Game vs. USC, where he was awarded MVP of that game. 

Now in his grand finale, he has continued to ascend and do what he’s done every year. 

Coming into the season, he was ranked by many as the No. 1 player in the 2022 draft class and undoubtedly the No. 1 edge rusher. Expected to play a more traditional edge role this year to showcase his pass-rushing prowess, he has been outstanding. Through nine games, he has generated six sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and five quarterback hurries.

Thibodeaux gets it done in a number of ways. He uses good technique, an explosive “get-off” off the ball, and has been better this season at finishing when he gets home. His presence and influence have freed up other players to thrive simply because of the attention given to him. Simply stated, his impact is immeasurable. 

So, that all leads us to this question: Is there any reason for a team NOT to pick Thibodeaux No. 1 overall?” 

The answer is an emphatic NO! In fact, they’d be stupid not to take him. 

As it currently stands, the Detroit Lions are leading the pack to earn the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. While some would argue they should select a quarterback, I don’t know that any of the current passers are significantly better than Jared Goff. This is a roster that has a lot of holes and severely lacks star power. They have taken a step back since Matthew Stafford was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Opponents are averaging nearly 27 points per game against the Lions’ defense. They are near last in third-down percentage while surrendering 305 yards per game. 

To imply that Detroit needs Thibodeaux is a vast understatement. He plays a premium position (EDGE) and has proven and sustained success at every level that he’s played. Pass rushers typically don’t forget how to rush the passer when they level up to the NFL. His ability to consistently get home will make Detroit’s entire front seven better and ultimately improve that defense as a whole. 

Thibodeaux is a proven commodity who is as much of a “sure thing” as there is in this draft class. Picking this talented young man will send shock waves throughout the entire organization. For a roster that has been starved for talent and is engineering a rebuild, picking Thibodeaux would be a 10-year foundational piece for that defense.

Written By:

Drae Harris

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Drae Harris is a Senior NFL Draft Analyst and seven-year scouting veteran in the NFL. He's a former player for the Cal Golden Bears and San Francisco 49ers.

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