EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (AP) — The New York Giants filled their two biggest needs in the first round, taking edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon and tackle Evan Neal with the No. 5 and 7 overall picks during the NFL draft on Thursday night.
If there was anything surprising about new general manager Joe Schoen’s picks it was the order in which they were selected.
Tackle was the biggest need but with an early run on defensive players, Schoen grabbed Thibodeaux at No. 5 and then knew he would be able to grab a tackle at No. 7 since there were three good options.
After Ikem Ekwonu was taken by the Carolina Panthers at No. 6, the Giants didn’t wait long to grab Neal, who will be a bookend to Andrew Thomas. Thomas has played the left side since being drafted in 2020, and Neal can play both sides so expect new coach Brian Daboll to use him on the right side to start.
The Giants (4-13) had plenty of needs coming into the draft, but the offensive line and putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks were the top two.
Thibodeaux is a fast rusher who makes plays in the backfield with uncanny burst and length. He is a former five-star recruit and seemed destined to be a first overall draft pick after his freshman season, but between injuries and a shortened pandemic season he never put together a fully dominant year.
He will fit into defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s variety of multiple schemes.
Neal has size and explosive athleticism. He started 40 games for the Crimson Tide and missed only one game in his three-year career, which ended as an All-American.
New York has had five straight losing seasons and has not been to the playoffs since 2016.
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