Bruce Feldman is one of the most highly respected voices in the NFL draft community. When he puts information out, people listen. In his latest mock draft for The Athletic, Feldman spent six weeks talking to coaches and experts inside college football to better evaluate the top prospects of the 2022 class. The insights are quite extensive, particularly for the Falcons’ first-round pick — Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The Coaching Intel
“When he wants to go, he can really go. He’s got good speed-to-power and he has excellent get-off, but he cannot play in space at an elite NFL level. I don’t think he’s a 3-4 outside linebacker. He’s more of a 4-3 DE that can, at times, drop. He doesn’t have a big counter game as a rusher. He’s gonna have to develop that.”
“He’s a high-waisted long guy, and his get-off is elite. Going into the game, you really worried about that, that he was gonna beat us off the ball.”
“There’s talent there, but what are you getting? He plays in spurts. He’s got it in his body — although there’s a little bit of stiffness in there. It’s not like he’s got an amazing body. He’s got a good first step for a 250-pound guy. I’d worry about his interests off the field. In a weird way, he reminds me of (Josh) Rosen. I think they’re both really good football players, and if they really concentrated on football, they’d be really good at it. But you listen to Thibodeaux talk and you wonder about his mindset. I think whatever his perception of being an NFL guy is is going to be totally different to what it actually is.”
“He’s a generational talent, freaky on film. He was the best D-lineman in the Pac-12 since Vita Vea. I didn’t think he was consistent with effort. He didn’t have much success early in our game, and he kinda shut it down.”
“I don’t see it, man. He’s good. He’s not great. He was a non-factor in so many games. He’s an independent contractor. His first step is unbelievable. You just wonder, how important is football to him?”
Obviously, these guys are much more connected than me, but I just don’t buy it. Whenever any prospect shows even an ounce of interest in anything other than football, evaluators automatically question his desire. Sure, it happened with Vic Beasley and turned out to be correct, but it also happened to Myles Garrett when he was coming out of Texas A&M. I’m not saying Thibs is on Garrett’s level by any means, but clearly, the league sees interests outside of football as a negative thing. It still shouldn’t be held against a prospect as harshly as it has against the Oregon product.