The New York Giants have a defensive star in the making entering the 2023 season. Following a four-sack rookie season, all eyes are on Kayvon Thibodeaux as the Giants’ potential breakout star this year. The 2022 fifth-overall draft pick seems ready to take that next step and establish himself as a defensive playmaker for Big Blue.
Kayvon Thibodeaux could be the Giants’ breakout star in 2023
Kayvon Thibodeaux dealt with injuries and growing pains during his regular season, but he still found a way to establish himself as a top young talent in the NFL. He may not have stuffed the stat sheet, but Thibodeaux’s impact shined through at the most crucial moments.
“The Closer” earned his nickname for his fourth-quarter heroics during his rookie season. In Week 6, Thibodeaux earned the first sack of his career – a game-winning strip-sack of Lamar Jackson. Weeks later he led the Giants to victory against the Washington Commanders in Week 15 amidst their final push to the postseason.
Against the Commanders, Thibodeaux forced a strip sack that he turned into a touchdown, changing the tide of the game for the Giants. He then came up with a big stop late in the fourth quarter to prevent a touchdown and seal the victory.
Though he only totaled four sacks, Thibodeaux racked up 40 pressures on 409 pass-rushing snaps during the regular season, per Pro Football Focus. He earned the fifth-highest PFF grade among rookie edge rushers in 2022.
Thibodeaux’s pressure stats reveal that, though he may not be finishing the plays out by tackling the quarterback, Kayvon is disrupting opposing offenses and getting close to making game-changing plays. As he enters his second season, the goal will be to convert more pressures to sacks. Achieving that goal will lead to a breakout season from the Giants’ 2022 fifth-overall pick.
After finishing fourth in voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year, Kayvon Thibodeaux is only getting started. His talent is obvious. If Thibodeaux can take that next step in 2023, he could begin to establish himself as the next great Giants pass-rusher.