Falcons: Could elite talents like Kayvon Thibodeaux and Derek Stingley Jr. slide in the draft?

DHO1911023953 ORE at USC

The Falcons are slotted to pick eighth overall in April’s draft; if a quarterback or two are taken before Atlanta is on the clock, Terry Fontenot will have a great opportunity to draft an elite-level prospect that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Kayvon Thibodeaux and Derek Stingley Jr. are a couple of those blue chip prospects that could fall into Fontenot’s lap. Matt Miller, a draft pundit, reported that NFL scouts have floated the idea that both prospects could slide.

Thibodeaux would be an absolute home run if he somehow fell to the Falcons at eight. The former Oregon Duck is built to rush the passer with his long, lean frame. He’s got an impressive first step and the flexibility to bend around edges. Though he’s more of a speed rusher, Thibodeaux has a timely bull rush that can catch tackles off guard.

Kayvon’s not incredibly effective at setting the edge against the run, but it’s not a total liability. His athleticism enables him to drop into coverage, which Dean Pees occasionally asks his outside linebackers to do.

Although he has a lot of upside, his awareness when defending the run needs work, and his hand usage isn’t even close to where it needs to be to beat NFL tackles consistently. He finished the 2021 season with 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles. At this point, Thibodeaux checks every box for a high-end pass rusher; the Falcons would be overjoyed if they ended up with him.

Stingley isn’t quite as highly rated as Thibodeaux, but he’s still an incredible prospect. The former LSU Tiger is willing to support the run, but his coverage ability has scouts raving.

He’s a fluid athlete with the ability to sink and flip his hips at a moment’s notice. Stingley possesses impressive recovery speed if he ends up getting beat off the line of scrimmage, but that doesn’t happen too often. He’s patient at the line of scrimmage with excellent lateral quickness and understanding of leverage.

Mainly playing press-man coverage for the Tigers, I believe Stingley is the type of corner who could do anything his defensive coordinator asked him to. His ability to track balls and attack them like a receiver is also something to note. I noticed watching Stingley for the past three years that he sometimes gets bored, which shouldn’t be a problem at the next level.

The Falcons would be big winners come April if they came away with either of these prospects; however, the chances of “Thibs” sliding are much less likely than Stingley.

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