Although slim, there is a chance that both stud pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and top three offensive tackle prospect Ikem Ekwonu are available for the New York Giants with the 5th overall selection.
Thibodeaux’s stock has dropped in recent weeks due to concerns over his work ethic and motor on the football field, but the Giants tested him vigorously at the NFL Combine to determine his true colors and if he would be a good fit in the New York market.
As seen in the past, the New York media can often overwhelm players, forcing them to speak out or act immaturely. The Giants desperately want to avoid that situation again, so being hard on Thibodeaux during his formal interview was a part of the process.
However, it is hard to avoid Thibodeaux‘s collegiate production, recording 12 tackles for a loss, 35 solo tackles, and 7.0 sacks last year. He also piled on two forced fumbles. Other players seemingly produced more in numerical values, but Thibodeaux‘s impact forced teams to allocate extra attention, which is a variable to consider.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants could have a shot at NC State tackle Ekwonu. Ekwonu stands at 6’4″ and 320 pounds, featuring at left tackle for North Carolina State last season. He would have to make the transition to the right side, but the Giants likely aren’t concerned about that factor. His ability to fit into any scheme and offer dominant run blocking on Day 1 is a huge benefit, but he’s no pushover as a pass-protector either.
Both players believe they could be the No. 1 overall selections in this year’s draft class, but with quarterback starting to get a bit more positive attention, there’s no saying what needy teams could do before the Giants select.
The question is, in the situation where Thibodeaux and Ekwonu are both on the board at No. 5, where did the Giants go?
One would have to imagine that both players are graded rather similarly, displaying great confidence and film to back up their performances at the college level. However, you could make the argument that landing a dominant pass rusher is far more difficult than finding a competent right tackle. The issue is, Ekwonu isn’t just competent, he has All-Pro potential during his rookie contract, which is an enticing factor.
If you’re talking about pure need, Ekwonu is the easy decision given the Giants’ desperate need for offensive line talent after featuring arguably the worst OL in football last year. The best player available strategy would likely steer you toward Thibodeaux, and that is probably where the Giants will go under general manager Joe Schoen.
With the 7th overall pick, the Giants could still have an opportunity to snag Charles Cross out of Mississippi State, who most believe is the best pass protecting tackle in the draft class. Other moves would suggest trading back for a player like Trevor Penning out of Northern Iowa.
Overall, Thibodeauz comes off as the better prospect, and the Giants need the best football players they can possibly land. Unfortunately, coaching has been a problem for the team in recent years, which has disrupted the development of good players. Hopefully, that is not a problem any longer and they’re able to extract the very best from their draft picks moving forward.