New Mock Draft Sends Potential Top Player in 2022 Draft to Seahawks

Kayvon Thibodeaux

Getty ESPN's Todd McShay projected Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux to the Seattle Seahawks in his newest mock draft.

W

ith the Seattle Seahawks acquiring the No. 9 overall pick from the Denver Broncos for quarterback Russell Wilson on March 8, the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft just became a lot more interesting for football fans in the Pacific Northwest.

The obvious choice for the Seahawks would be to draft Wilson’s successor ninth overall on April 28. But NFL draft analyst Todd McShay of ESPN has other ideas.

In his newest mock draft released after the Wilson trade, McShay projected the Seahawks to select Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 9.

“He has 4.58 speed, the ability to walk blockers back and a great arsenal of pass-rush moves at his disposal,” McShay wrote. “I’ve mentioned that I still want to see a little more fire out of him on a down-to-down basis, and that’s still true.

“But there’s no doubt he has the talent to be a difference-maker on an NFL defense. And Seattle’s unit could use that: Its 34 sacks tied for No. 22 last season, while its 38.7% pass rush win rate ranked No. 20. Thibodeaux, who had seven sacks and 46 pressures last season, gets a new era of Seahawks football rolling.”

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Kayvon Thibodeaux Compared to Four-Time Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo

Fellow NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein of NFL.com agreed with McShay in his scouting report of Thibodeaux — he has tremendous potential because of his talent but is a bit raw.

“Enticing edge defender whose game is fueled by traits and power over skill and instincts at this juncture of his career,” Zierlein wrote. “Thibodeaux is hardly a finished product, but has pro-ready attributes that should help him acclimate quickly. He’s a plus run defender who punches above his weight at the point of attack with heavy hands and a sturdy base.

“Thibodeaux rushes with effort, upfield burst and play-through power that should bring reasonable sack/pressure production. However, he needs to add some go-to moves and more skilled hands to his bag if he is to affect the quarterback more frequently and reach his lofty potential as a standout, two-way edge defender.”

Zierlein compared Thibodeaux to former Washington and Tennessee outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who made four Pro Bowls in his 10-year career. Orakpo posted 66.0 sacks, 77 tackles for loss, 125 quarterback hits and 424 combined tackles. He also had 31 pass defenses, 12 forced fumbles and an interception in his career.


Kayvon Thibodeaux’s Performance at the NFL Combine

Thibodeaux experienced a bit of an unusual combine. After saying in a press conference that he would participate in all the workouts at the NFL Combine, Thibodeaux ran in the 40-yard dash and performed in the bench press then decided to sit out the rest of the workouts.

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah called Thibodeaux’s combine “kind of weird” on The Rich Eisen Show on March 8.

“The issue isn’t that he didn’t do the field workout. If he came into the combine and did media and talked to teams and said, ‘Hey, here’s the plan,'” Jeremiah said. “‘I’m going to go out here. I’m just going to run the 40 [yard dash], I’ve been training for the 40, I’m going to run the 40 here. And then I want to go do the field workout at Oregon.’

“Ok, that’s cool. No problem. Been done a million times. Nobody would bat an eye.”

Jeremiah explained that lots of prospects run the 40-yard dash at the combine and then do the field drills at their school’s pro day in an effort to bring scouts to see their college teammates.

But that wasn’t Thibodeaux’s reasoning for not doing the field drills in Indianapolis.

“When he said, ‘I want to do linebacker drills.’ Well, yeah, so does Travon Walker and so do all these guys. You get a chance to do all the linebacker drills. Do the d-line drills and then you do the linebacker drills. So the explanation was just kind of goofy.”

Jeremiah added that because the 2022 draft class is so deep at edge rusher and because there were already concerns about his worth ethic coming into the draft process, Thibodeaux could fall a few spots in the top 10 as the result of the combine confusion.

In the drills he did do at the combine, Thibodeaux excelled. He completed 27 reps on the bench press, which was best among edge rushers. Thibodeaux was also seventh at his position in the 40-yard dash (4.58).

Of course, Thibodeaux falling in the top 10 will be a good thing for the Seahawks. Before the NFL Combine, not many scouts projected Thibodeaux to remain undrafted until ninth overall. The Bleacher Report scouting department in February ranked Thibodeaux the top player available in the 2022 draft class.

Pro Football Focus has Thibodeaux ranked the fourth-best prospect on their 2022 NFL Draft big board. The ESPN draft rankings, which includes McShay’s opinion, has Thibodeaux as the No. 9 player in the class.


Seahawks Pass on Quarterback in McShay’s Mock Draft

Part of McShay’s reasoning for slotting Thibodeaux to the Seahawks at No. 9 is because he could easily be a top five selection. Theoretically, at No. 9, Thibodeaux is a steal.

But McShay addressed what drafting the edge rusher would mean for the Seahawks at quarterback.

“Because the Seahawks are left with Drew Lock — who was part of the return [for Wilson] — as their current quarterback, you have to think they will take a very close look at this draft class’ signal-callers,” McShay wrote. “Do they start over with Pitt’s Kenny Pickett? Do they draft Liberty’s Malik Willis and bet on his upside?

“Both options are possible at No. 9, but I think Seattle looks to free agency for a short-term complement to Lock and focuses in on Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud in the 2023 draft.”

It’s worth noting that McShay doesn’t have a quarterback getting drafted in his new mock draft until 18th overall. The last time it took at least 18 selections for a quarterback to be picked in the NFL draft was 1997.

Even with a weaker quarterback draft class this year, it seems highly unlikely fans will be waiting that long to hear a quarterback’s named called in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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