Mel Kiper Jr. mocks Kayvon Thibodeaux and Devin Lloyd to Giants, Drake London to Browns
In Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest NFL mock draft, he has a new No. 1 for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants taking Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Utah’s Devin Lloyd with their two top-10 picks.
In Kiper’s first mock in mid-January, the top two picks were edge rushers—Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Thibodeaux—while NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu was down at No. 5. Now, as the NFL Scouting Combine gets rolling in Indianapolis, Kiper has changed his tune.
“Offensive tackle or edge rusher here? I don’t think the Jaguars are set either way. Realistically, this is down to four prospects: Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux,” Kiper wrote. New coach Doug Pederson and the Jags will get an opportunity to meet with each of them at the combine. They’ll get a front seat to all four on-field workouts, of course, but what goes on behind the scenes matters just as much.”
Kiper and his ESPN draft cohort Todd McShay both now have the Jaguars going with protection for quarterback Trevor Lawrence over potential disruption for opposing quarterbacks, though they differ on who that tackle will be.
In both instances, though, Thibodeaux has slid all the way down to No. 5. Kiper and McShay both have the Giants picking him as the top player on the board.
Here’s what Kiper wrote on Thibodeaux-to-New York:
“If the draft plays out like this and both of the top offensive tackles are off the board before the Giants pick, taking a defender makes the most sense. And if Thibodeaux is available, he’d be a perfect fit for a New York defense that needs to pair a true edge rusher with rookie Azeez Ojulari, who led the team with eight sacks last season. Thibodeaux has to improve his all-around game, but he has outstanding physical tools as a pass-rusher. He had seven sacks last season and put up the second-best pressure rate in the country (17.8%). If he comes close to his ceiling, he’ll make multiple All-Pro teams.”
In recent months, Thibodeaux has come under a bit of fire from anonymous team scouts. McShay reported that there are concerns Thibodeaux “just doesn’t play with the same fire” as other top prospects in the draft, and that his floor as a player might be “lower than what you want for a top-five pick.”
Thibodeaux shrugged off those remarks during a SportsCenter appearance. “I know it’s entertainment, I know everyone has a job to do, but I feel like the Combine is gonna be a place where I can put all the questions to rest and I’ll be able to answer them with my chin up and my chest out,” he said.
Kiper has the Giants turning around two picks later and selecting Lloyd at No. 7 as well.
At No. 9, Kiper is projecting the Cleveland Browns trade up with the Denver Broncos to take USC wideout Drake London, who Kiper calls the best receiver in the class.
Other Pac-12 projections from Kiper’s latest mock include:
- Washington CB Trent McDuffie to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 15
- Washington CB Kyler Gordon to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 31