The New York Giants made a colossal splash when they selected both Kayvon Thibodeaux (5th overall pick) and Evan Neal (7th overall pick) in the first round of this year’s draft. While the team is certainly excited to have these two talented rookies on the roster, others around the NFL still have their doubts about Thibodeaux and Neal.
One NFL executive (not from the Giants) recently shared his doubts while speaking under the condition of anonymity to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. When asked to comment on Thibodeaux and Neal, the executive said both players lack elite athleticism.
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In the eyes of this particular talent evaluator, Thibodeaux is “not a freak athlete.”
“I think it will be a matter of expectation,” the NFL executive told The Athletic. “He’s not an athletic freak. He’s a good athlete, he’s not a great one. Really more of a technical rusher. So I think he’s going to be productive. I just don’t know if he’s this Von Miller double-digit sacks, Jevon Kearse out of the gates, like, ‘How do we block this guy? He’s taking the world by storm.’ I think he’s just going to be a really steady six-to-eight-sack guy that’ll be a productive pass rusher in this league, primarily because of his hand use. He’s got a long arm and he understands how to work off his long arm. He’s got some polish as a rusher.”
Being a technician isn’t a bad thing, but it’s typically a description for a solid role player you’d find on Day 2 or 3 of the draft — not a potential franchise cornerstone who cost you a top-five pick. This is not a glowing scouting report of Thibodeaux as an NFL prospect.
And it gets even more critical, as the executive then dove into Thibodeaux’s well-documented desire to be a marketable athlete in New York City.
“I think he’s certainly here for the limelight,” the executive continued, via The Athletic. “He doesn’t shy away from it. But playing for the Giants now, maybe that’s a good thing. It’s not going to be too big for him. I think he’s smart enough to know that as much as he allegedly cares about his brand, he needs to perform on the field for that to come to fruition.”
Thibodeaux may not be a “freak athlete,” according to one unnamed executive, but I can assure you there are only a handful of humans on the planet who can do this.
What the Anonymous NFL Executive Said About Evan Neal
While Thibodeaux was a controversial prospect during the pre-draft process, few talent evaluators could find a significant flaw in Evan Neal’s game. But once again, according to the anonymous NFL executive quoted in The Athletic, Neal is “not a premium athlete.”
“Evan Neal is a solid player,” the executive told The Athletic. “He’s going to be able to fail at four positions, worst-case scenario. Higher floor, lower ceiling than the other tackle prospects because he’s not a premium athlete. But he can (play) and has played three positions. That’s why I like the fit because Andrew Thomas gets to stay at the blind side, and you solidify the right tackle spot with Evan Neal.”
Hold up, sir. Have you seen this?
(Reminder: That’s a 6-foot-7, 351-pound man.)
While on the topic of Neal, the executive went into more detail about his lack of athleticism.
“He’s not this sudden, quick-footed, ballerina dancing bear type of a left tackle,” the executive said, via The Athletic. “He’s more of a controlled athlete rather than a quick-twitch explosive athlete. But ultimately it doesn’t really matter because there’s more than one way to win, and he’s won consistently in the SEC.”
The Executive’s Player Comparison for Wan’Dale Robinson
The anonymous NFL executive wasn’t as critical of second-round draft pick Wan’Dale Robinson. In fact, he compared Robinson to a “more dynamic version” of a well-known slot receiver.
“I think Wan’Dale ends up being their version of Cole Beasley,” he told The Athletic. “Maybe a more dynamic version.”
That would be great for the Giants, if it ends up coming true, as Beasley has played 10 NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills and has 550 career receptions. Giants head coach Brian Daboll should be very familiar with this brand of playmaker from his time working with Beasley as Buffalo’s offensive coordinator.
NFL Executive Rips Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal For Lack of Athleticism