The Giants loaded up in the trenches Thursday night.
New York selected Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux with the fifth overall pick and Alabama tackle Evan Neal with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Boasting a magnificent mix of speed and power, Thibodeaux's potential and production made him a candidate to be a top-five pick, while questions concerning his desire and effort plagued him during the pre-draft process.
The No. 1 overall high school prospect coming out of Oaks Christian in Southern California, Thibodeaux wasted little time making an impact with the Ducks as he produced nine sacks in his freshman year. In 2021, Thibodeaux tallied seven sacks as a junior to go with 50 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits. Thibodeaux has been under a football microscope since he transferred from Los Angeles' Dorsey High School to Oaks Christian, and has matured accordingly, considering business opportunities presented to him among many other factors in his college recruitment before ultimately choosing Oregon over the rest of the Division I powerhouses.
Though he lacks great bend and flexibility, Thibodeaux's toolbox is full when it comes to pass-rushing ability thanks to his size, speed and quickness off the ball. He'll fit in nicely on a defensive front that includes Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. The latter of the two had his fifth-year option picked up by the team Thursday prior to the draft, and he'll have a new running mate in Thibodeaux.
New York finished 25th in the league against the run last season, but it wasn't the only obvious need on its roster. The Giants also entered the draft with a glaring void at tackle and answered that by choosing Neal, a tackle who many saw as the top prospect at his position early in the pre-draft process.
Neal ended up going one pick after Ikem Ekwonu, and both are expected to be able to contribute immediately thanks to their experience playing in multiple positions. Neal will likely slot in at right tackle for the Giants, a position he manned for all 13 games in the 2020 season for the national championship-winning Crimson Tide.
With 2020 first-round choice Andrew Thomas lining up on the left side, the Giants now have bookend first-rounders at both tackle positions. They'll both need to play well in 2022 to give Daniel Jones the best chance of proving he can be New York's franchise quarterback beyond this season.