Kayvon Thibodeaux declares himself “Jadeveon 2.0”

INDIANAPOLIS — Can what’s going on with Kayvon Thibodeaux be seen as a backlash from Jadeveon Clowney?

Clowney was the Texans’ No. 1 pick in 2014 despite clinching just three sacks in his final season in South Carolina. Freaky talent and highlight film games were his calling cards. In the NFL? The same offer. Everything sizzles, not enough red meat. Clowney, with just 41 career sacks in eight seasons, is looking for his fifth team and certainly hasn’t produced to match his high draft status.

Thibodeaux won’t be the first player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he will aim high, possibly to the Giants in 5th place. Will this choice one day be seen as prescient or short-sighted?

“Look back at Clowney, he was great but he didn’t have all the skills and tools as far as pass rush ability goes,” Thidodeaux said at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday. “I feel like I can build on him – I’m like Jadeveon 2.0. I feel like I have the skills and I have the hunger to continue.”

Kayvon Thibodeaux
Kayvon Thibodeaux speaks at the NFL Combine.
USA today sports
Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney
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At that time a year ago, it was fashionable to project Thibodeaux as the No. 1 overall pick despite having enjoyed a seven-game, three-sack season. This year, he capped a 10-game, 49 tackles, seven-sack 2021 season in Oregon and watched Aidan Hutchinson snatch the title of “college football’s top edge rusher” from him. In his first 29 games in Michigan, Hutchinson had a total of 3.5 sacks. He finished 14th in 14 games in 2021 and basked in the spotlight with a burst of three sacks and seven tackles in a loss at Ohio State. That’s how he climbed to the top of the charts. Hutchinson won’t get past the Lions for 2nd place.

“I’m very confident in my abilities,” said Hutchinson.

Thibodeaux made a neat deflection when asked to compare himself to Hutchinson, saying they are different players and would bring different skills to the teams they take on. However, he didn’t hesitate when asked what makes him the best pass rusher in this draft class.

“My way of thinking,” he said. “Not only do I have great skills, great athletic ability, but I’m also really curious.”

Thibodeaux said he wanted to emulate Von Miller, who has 115.5 career NFL sacks.

“I’m not the biggest, I’m not the strongest and I’m not the fastest. So when you realize that, you need to figure out what gives you that edge, just like Miller did, and my mind gives me that edge,” Thibodeaux said. “I’m a chess player, so I’m thinking about how I can move forward: How can I control the game and control what the offense is doing so that I can get what I want out of the situation?”

Kayvon Thibodeaux ended his last season in Oregon with seven sacks.

How far will Thibodeaux fall in the first round? Todd McShay, a draft analyst at ESPN, recently said some NFL teams believe Thibodeaux “doesn’t play with the same fire as some other top prospects. His ceiling is high, but the bottom is lower than one would wish for a top five pick.” For this reason, McShay drops Thibodeaux from the top five.

“For me, I feel like when you have a bright kid like me, you have a lot of positives, someone has to find the negatives,” Thibodeaux said. “I don’t really pay attention to it. I know what I can do for a team. And if we dissect the film, I can talk about the specifics of the game. I’m not overly concerned about what people have to say about it as long as the teams and I can understand who I am and how tough [I play] and the love I have for the game.” Kayvon Thibodeaux declares himself “Jadeveon 2.0”


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