Why Giants took Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal in 2022 NFL Draft

Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen treated image, close up back to back with swoosh

It’s always great for a rebuilding team to have two Top 10 picks in a draft. But when they’re at No. 5 and No. 7, you have to see how the board plays out first to really make your decision.

Preparation, then, becomes the top priority, as millions of scenarios run through the front office. Well, the Giants were prepared for just about every one of them.

“We had seven or eight cards, and we kept switching back and forth based on these scenarios and this was a scenario we went over,” Giants GM Joe Schoen told reporters after their picks. “If there were two tackles on the board and the pass rusher, we’re going to go pass rusher knowing we can get a tackle at seven. We were ecstatic when that scenario came up.”

That scenario had Kayvon Thibodeaux, the stud edge rusher from Oregon, going to Big Blue at No. 5 overall. Why? The Giants had the two tackles — Evan Neal and Ickey Ekwonu — rate very close to each other. They would be just fine with whoever dropped to them at No. 7.

That was Neal.

“We’re ecstatic with the two picks we got,” Schoen said.

“They both have good size, good length,” head coach Brian Daboll added. “Kayvon is quick off the ball. I think he has a wide variety of pass rush moves, but he can also set an edge on us for the defense. No secret we play multiple schemes with Wink [Martindale] as our defensive coordinator, and we envision Kayvon being able to do a lot of different things for us.”

“Evan, he’s played multiple positions. He’s long. It takes a guy to go the long route to go to the quarterback. He’s a big, massive man. Have a lot of people down at Alabama that I trust that had a lot of confidence in him and had a lot of good things to say about him.”

In Thibodeaux’s case specifically, Schoen, Daboll and the rest of the staff really got to know him well.

“We’ve spent a lot of time with him. We met him at the Combine. I flew out there for his Pro Day along with a couple other individuals. We had him in here for a visit and he’s a very outgoing individual,” Schoen divulged. “He’s got a lot of personality. Really a good kid, likable kid, works hard. Brian and I had several conversations with his coaches over the last couple of days. We FaceTimed him last weekend. So we really got to know the kid maybe more than any player in this draft. Like the personality and like the player.”

Neal was another prospect that Schoen was able to have dinner with when he visited East Rutherford. It also helped that Daboll has Alabama roots, so he was tapped in which is always a help.

And as for trading back, Schoen did say they had things in the works if that’s what happened. But it was this scenario, honestly an ideal one for the Giants, that had them stay put and land players they believe will make an impact the second they step foot in MetLife Stadium for Week 1.


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