The Giants knew they needed to improve the edge-rush outside linebacker group after finishing last in sacks. The former first round pick, Devon Kennard is a good start but there’s still room for improvement. Travon Walker and Kayvon Thibodeaux are both promising players who may fit into that role.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Edge rushers at the top of the NFL draft in 2022 come in many shapes and sizes, and they have a diverse set of talents. The New York Giants have a need at the position, with the Nos. 5 and 7 overall choices, and will look at a number of options.
There’s Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, who is expected to be the No. 1 overall choice by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and many other draft pundits. Hutchinson, who measures over 6-foot-7 and weighs 260 pounds, has the finest technique of the group.
With his strength and eye-catching talents for his stature, Georgia’s Travon Walker (6-5, 272) is pushing his way up the boards. His 4.51-second 40-yard sprint performance at the combine was the best by a 270-pound athlete since at least 2006. As a senior, Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II had fast hands and feet, as well as the output to match (11.5 sacks). Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon isn’t particularly huge for the position (6-4, 254), but he possesses a first stride that entices the high-octane audience.
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The beauty of the position is the shear range of edge rushers, and this year’s draft is no exception. Not everyone is Von Miller (Buffalo Bills) or Myles Garrett (Cleveland Browns), the prototypical pass rushers who could be scouted and predicted to be terrific. It’s a position where apparently flawed talents like T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 2021 NFL defensive player of the year, who was deemed an effort rusher and drafted 30th overall in 2017, continue to defy the odds.
So, where does everything go wrong? What is non-negotiable when evaluating edge rushers and identifying what makes them productive at the next level when it comes to getting to the quarterback?
“Sometimes you can find yourself in trouble if you start concentrating on just the measurables and attempt to construct something,” Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said at the NFL scouting combine. “The most significant element, in my opinion, is whether he is winning those 1-on-1 matches.”
The Giants and their general manager, Joe Schoen, must figure this out. Which of this year’s best edge rushers has a track record of success in college and will it transfer to the NFL? Is the No. 5 or No. 7 overall choice worth it?
The Giants, who haven’t drafted an edge rusher in the top 10 since Cedric Jones in 1996, are just one of the teams looking for an edge rusher at the top of the draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, and New York Jets, who hold the first four selections, all have needs at the position.
According to reports, Hutchinson, Walker, Johnson, and Thibodeaux have all visited or will visit the Giants before to the draft. Even after picking Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari in the second round last year, it’s a position they need to improve. As a rookie, he recorded 8.0 sacks.
Schoen previously stated of the two top choices, “We have enough needs on the roster to grab the best player available.” “That’s how [the draft board] will be put up. We’ll go with greatest football player 1-7 as a starting point.”
Schoen was a member of the front staff that selected edge rushers Greg Rousseau and AJ Epenesa with Buffalo’s first-round choices the previous two years. Neither of them was a fitness aficionado, yet they were both long and productive when they graduated from college.