Former All-Pro DE explains why Kayvon Thibodeaux should be No. 1 pick in NFL Draft
From someone who watched him work up close and personal, Kayvon Thibodeaux should be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Former Tennessee Volunteer and NFL All-Pro defensive end Chuck Smith trained several of the top defensive draft prospects this year, including Thibodeaux. He joined the latest episode of the College Football Uncensored podcast to break down the top three edge rusher prospects in this draft.
As Thursday’s first round has drawn closer, debate has emerged over whether Travon Walker, a former Georgia edge who had 37 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss last season on the Bulldogs’ national title-winning defense, is a better prospect than Thibodeaux or Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, two guys who traded off spending almost the entire college football season as the No. 1 pick in mock drafts.
Smith said Walker is a high-upside player. Maybe the biggest-upside player of the group.
But his No. 1 pick?
“I think the No. 1 overall pick is Kayvon Thibodeaux,” Smith said. “I think he should be but he won’t be.
“Travon Walker, now he’s moving up the boards and a lot of teams like him because of the measurables, but I’m not quite sure from the on-field performance. When it comes to being a pass-rusher, is he as polished as those other two guys? No. (Are) his measurables and all that stuff as big and strong as those guys? Yes. So it’s going to be really interesting.”
Smith talked about the differentiator being that Thibodeaux and Hutchinson have both demonstrated against elite-level tackles they can spin and dip and bull-rush and win in pass-rush situations on the field over the course of multiple years. “I think Kayvon’s the most skilled,” he added.
Yet it’s Walker who is the strong candidate to go first overall. He’s the betting favorite, according to FanDuel.
Thibodeaux produced 49 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and seven sacks in 11 games last season, four fewer than what Walker—who had one less sack—appeared in.
The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft begins Thursday night at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN.
You can listen to the rest of Smith’s interview below. (It begins at the 48:17 mark.)