DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon*

6’5” – 258 lbs.

Background:

Immediately burst onto the scene as a 242-pound freshman, posting a line of 35-14.0-9.0. Over seven games the following year, went 38-9.5-3.0, then posted 49-12.0-7.0 this past year as of the time of writing.

Positives:

Has an ideal combination of height and length for an edge defender; lined up on both sides of the defense, usually but not exclusively out of a two-point stance. Produced despite drawing a lot of extra attention from opposing offenses. Overall athleticism is excellent, with impressive burst off the line of scrimmage, smooth arcs around the edge, and an explosive closing burst. Generally but not always the first defender out of his stance. Motor never stops. Very active with his hands, and consistently mixes up his rush approach. Capable of converting speed to power, using his suddenness to keep opponents off-balance and then using leverage/leg drive to walk back blockers. Can squeeze through gaps with his inside move. Uses length to contest passing lanes when coming through the B-gap. Predominantly a disrupter but can two-gap if needed. Gets good extension with his arms to lock out opponents in the run game; keeps his hips low with effective spacing to maintain base integrity. Able to make tackles while engaged. Rangy in pursuit, with strong awareness and fluid change-of-direction skills. Also looks smooth dropping into zone coverage, with good knee-bend and clean footwork.

Negatives:

Has added over fifteen pounds of bulk since his freshman season, but teams with a base four-man line may want him to gain a few extra pounds. Aggressiveness could work against him from time to time (outside run against inside move, etc.) Balance is generally good but can overextend or have occasional issues with contact balance. Minor issues defending against cut blocks. Would like to see him keep his shoulders square more consistently when playing the run. Teams generally ran away from him, so there isn’t as much tape of him holding the point of attack. Missed some time due to an ankle injury at the beginning of the year.

Summary:

The total package as far as modern edge defenders are concerned: a tall, long, explosive, and fluid end who has a creative approach to rushing the passer, can chase down ballcarriers in backside pursuit, and drops into zones smoothly. Looks like a lock to be one of the first players off the board in this year’s class as a future primary pass-rusher.

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