Arguably the top college football recruit in 2019, Thibodeaux has lived up to the hype so far with 12 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss over 21 games in his first two seasons. In a pair of Pac-12 Championship Games, he's been virtually unblockable -- 18 QB pressures, 4.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks in those two games combined.
Current Oregon (and former Texas A&M) DC Tim DeRuyter has compared Thibodeaux's explosiveness to that of Von Miller, one of DeRuyter's former players, as he said that Kayvon is "probably the first person that I've seen in a while who has that explosiveness off the edge like Von" [Miller].
The Bengals (17) ranked last in the NFL in sacks last season. Even though they signed Trey Hendrickson to a four-year deal, Carl Lawson (team-high 5.5 sacks) departed via free agency.
The Cincinnati Bengals surprised some -- including this writer -- when they passed on Penei Sewell and drafted Ja'Marr Chase at the start of the 2021 NFL draft. If they are still picking near the top of the board, you might think that the organization goes in a different direction, looking to add to the offensive line instead. Alabama tackle Evan Neal looks like he could be the next in a long line of Crimson Tide offensive linemen to make his way into the first round.
Thibodeaux put up 34 pressures in only seven games this past season, with a ridiculous 12 coming against USC in the 2020 Pac-12 Championship Game. He's an ironman for the Ducks and averaged just over 67 snaps a game last year. He's got the ideal frame for the edge, too, at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds.
Nelson has started 20 games at left tackle for Miami and greatly improved over the past season. In 2020, the 6-foot-5, 316-pounder was attributed zero sacks against and allowed only three pressures on 336 pass-block snaps. After the Bengals drafted a dominant wide receiver in Ja'Marr Chase in the first round this year, I think they look to Joe Burrow's protection on Day 1 in 2022.
This past draft was the first without a pass rusher in the top 10 since 2012, but Thibodeaux will help the position make a comeback next April. The former five-star recruit has lived up to expectations in Eugene and is the current favorite to be the first non-quarterback drafted in 2022.
Jackson Carman, who the Bengals took in the second-round of 2021, is probably not a tackle. He will likely be playing guard in Cinci. Additionally, right tackle Riley Reiff is a middling player who is only on a one-year deal, meaning the Bengals will almost certainly need a tackle in 2022. As per usual, the Crimson Tide is providing one of the best options to fill that need in this class. Neal dominated at right tackle for Alabama in 2020, but could potentially move to the blind side with Alex Leatherwood now out of the program.