Giants Can Sign Former No. 9 Pick to Help Kayvon Thibodeaux

Kayvon Thibodeaux

Getty The New York Giants can sign a former ninth-overall draft pick to help edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Building a deeper pass rush around Kayvon Thibodeaux is a priority for New York Giants’ defensive coordinator Shane Bowen, and signing veteran outside linebacker Leonard Floyd in 2024 NFL free agency can make it happen.

Floyd, the ninth player selected in the 2016 draft, makes sense for the Giants, according to Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus. Spielberger pointed out how “the Giants need to add several pieces on the edge for new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen, and there is the connection here with general manager Joe Schoen formerly working with the Buffalo Bills.”

If general manager Joe Schoen still has contacts with the Buffalo Bills, perhaps he can get a head start on sorting out a deal for an edge-rusher who’s getting better later in his career. Floyd tied a career-high mark with 10.5 sacks for the Bills in 2023, the fourth season in a row he’s logged at least nine quarterback takedowns.

Those numbers make Floyd a good fit for a defense Schoen has hinted will be more aggressive on early downs under Bowen than previous DC Don ‘Wink’ Martindale.

Leonard Floyd Getting Better Every Year

Floyd hovered dangerously close to bust status during four middling seasons after being a top-10 pick for the Chicago Bears. Things turned around when Floyd joined the Los Angeles Rams in 2020 and promptly recorded double-digit sacks for the first time in his career, before winning a Super Bowl the next season.

Joining the Bills last offseason gave Floyd the chance to prove three productive campaigns in L.A. were no fluke. He became the first Bills pass-rusher since Lorenzo Alexander in 2016 to register 10 or more sacks, per Buffalo Bills PR.

Floyd reached the milestone with plays like this sack against the Washington Commanders in Week 3, highlighted by WROC-TV’s Thad Brown. He won with impressive acceleration around the corner and a nifty dip move underneath right tackle Andrew Wylie.

The athleticism that made Floyd a star at Georgia is finally showing up week after week in the pros. When he puts it all together, the 31-year-old has matured into a disruptive force who can take over a game.

That’s what Floyd did when he “generated 5 pressures on 11 pass rushes” in the first half against Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins in Week 4, per Next Gen Stats.

Performances like that one show how Floyd could be the perfect bookend for Thibodeaux in a Giants’ system set to unleash pass-rushers from base fronts.

Kayvon Thibodeaux Will Get More Pass-Rush Opportunities

Bowen told reporters at the annual NFL Scouting Combine things will be different defensively for the Giants in 2024, per Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants.

Specifically, Schoen explained how “Wink preferred more run-stoppers on first and second down. Let’s get to third down where we can do the exotics and blitz and all that stuff. Shane’s philosophy’s going to be a little bit more let’s get after the passer, like we’ll stop the run on the way to the passer. Look for more edge guys and the ability to rush the passer.”

That shift in mentality should be good news for Thibodeaux, who became a game-wrecker in his own right during his second season. The fifth-overall pick in 2022 increased his sack totals from four to 11.5.

Thibodeaux’s improvement was all the more impressive considering the Giants lacked another dominant edge-rusher. None of Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward nor Boogie Basham were able to disrupt protection the same way.

Four multiple-sack games underpinned Thibodeaux’s breakout season, but he drew a blank in four-straight outings to close the season, per Pro Football Reference. Thibodeaux would surely be a more consistent source of big plays with better support.

Floyd would provide sufficient support at a relative bargain price projected by at $8.1 million annually. It’s well within the $35,319,267 Schoen has to work with under the salary cap.

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