Although the 2022 NFL Draft took place over the course of three days last Thursday through Saturday, within roughly one hour of the event, the Giants could already claim it was hugely successful. With the No. 5 pick the team selected University of Oregon defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux and at No. 7 selected University of Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal.
The duo were considered by many draft analysts as the best prospects at their respective positions and they fill critical weaknesses for Giants. Overall, the team chose 11 players, the most they have acquired through the draft in a single class since 2003.
The offensive line in particular has been a problematic unit for the Giants for the better part of the last decade. The 21-year-Neal, a native of Okeechobee, Florida, who played multiple positions on Alabama’s line, will initially be plugged in at right tackle opposite left tackle Andrew Thomas, who was the No. 4 pick in the first round of the 2020 draft by the Giants.
“I think I told you guys at the [NFL Scouting] Combine,” said Schoen to the media on Saturday, “we had maybe five healthy bodies, offensive lineman, on the roster, and that’s my point. There were several holes, and we didn’t have a lot of depth throughout the roster.
“So start there, start up front,” he expanded, “let’s see the best version of Daniel Jones we can, and it starts by hopefully keeping him on his feet. And that’s going to help Saquon and that’s going to help the receivers because he’ll have more time to get him the ball. I think we upgraded the offensive line, which hopefully we did. We’ll see how the competition in training camp goes. But, yeah, I’m happy where we are with the depth overall.”
Thibodeaux, a two-time All-Pac-12 first team performer in 2020 and 2021, will give the Giants a disruptive force coming off the edge of the defensive. The Giants have lacked a consistent pass rush in recent years which made Thibodeaux a primary target of the team entering the off-season. He is already off to a positive start having Giants legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Micheal Strahan as a mentor. The South Los Angeles,
California product has aspirations of modeling Strahan’s career both as a player and post-football success.
“I have some good people at Oregon who already had envisioned me being like him one day and how big he’s become,” said Thibodeaux at his introductory press conference on Saturday at the Giants’ facilities in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“So we’ve had mutual friends through Oregon and the people there and they connected us. I was able to get on Zoom with him, chop it up with him. I think this was when I was still in school. So I would say last year, probably fall camp, actually, was when I first had the first Zoom with him and then I got to meet him. Now, actually seeing him and really talking to him and building that relationship has been dope.”