A general manager’s first draft pick with a team means something extra. He will be tied to that player forever, and the pick says something about the GM’s thought process and risk tolerance.
Dave Gettleman and Saxon Barkley will always be connected. And now so will Joe Shoen and Kywan Thibodaux, the charismatic Oregon pass rusher who landed in New Jersey on Saturday morning with a hoarse voice and a $36 million dollar smile.
Thibodaux, 21, said Saturday morning on the auditorium stage inside the Giant’s East Rutherford, NJ, facility, “To touch it was like, it’s meant to be.”
Both Evan Neill and Thibodaux, who dealt with the Alabama offensive, were thoughtful, friendly, and genuine during their first meeting with the New York media.
The impressive 6-7,340-pound Neil barely fit when entering through the door. 7 overall pick said he was 378 pounds in eighth grade. Thibodaux, who was elected fifth overall, nodded in surprise.
Neil, 21, said, “One thing I take away from the Giants organization is that they’re really trying to get back into that winning culture. And that’s something I really respect.” ”
However, Thibodaux is an attractive prospect. He’s a star, a Los Angeles native eager to embrace the Big Apple, already familiar with the big city from frequent trips over the past two years.
He gives off vibes as a playwright with an electric personality like Odell Beckham Jr., whose name and face could quickly be on billboards and marquees in the region, if not across the country.
He’s such a natural on camera, he might be hosting his own national television talk show right now. He had no voice for Saturday’s big introduction as he is celebrating his special week.
“I would say the music is hitting hits differently,” he said. “That’s why my voice is gone, because I’m singing along and singing from my heart.”
It is well documented that some teams were put off by Thibodaux’s overconfidence, perceptions (right or wrong) about his work ethic and his many off-field efforts.
Some evaluators have told the Daily News that they are particularly concerned about Thibodaux turning his attention to football in New York. Two pass rushers went ahead of him to Jaguars and Lions. The Jets, accompanied by a head coach who loves the pass rushers, passed him for a corner.
By risking his early reputation on such a polarizing player, Schoen is taking some risk.
“He’s a very outgoing person,” the GM acknowledged Thursday. “He has a lot of personality.”
That said, Thibodaux showed Saturday why the Giants were convinced he could handle it: He’s self-aware. And when he’s going to be himself, he knows that his actions should speak louder.
“I guess there’s one thing with me, you can’t be a smoker,” Thibodaux said. “I can’t be the guy who has nothing to show. I can’t be the guy people see and don’t believe, right? So for me, no matter what I say, I know that Gotta go to work.”
Thibodaux also said – when asked about some scouts criticizing his “brand” as a distraction – that he has checked his ego at the Giants’ doorstep.
“When they handed me the playbook it was in iPad form, and I, I learn writing best,” he said. “So for me it was like the brand went out the window. The only thing I can do right now is playbook.”
Thibodaux even said that Michael Strahan, mentor of the legendary Pas Rusher, advised him to “keep the main thing the main thing”.
“Football is going to be the terminal for everything you want to do later, as long as you keep the main thing to the main thing,” he said.
When asked whether he would prefer Strahan’s football career or his post-football career, he replied: “They are both ridiculous, but to me I feel like I want to have my own path. Because of what he has done, he has done the great things he has done. So I had to go to work on my own and build that legacy for myself.”
Thibodaux admitted he is “ignorant” to the history of legendary pass rushers outside Strahan and has to do “some research” on all the greats he hopes to follow.
Before studies by Lawrence Taylor, Leonard Marshall, Justin Tuck, Osi Umeniora and the like, they have a more pressing case to participate in first:
5 jersey number from kicker Graham Gano, who is apparently asking the rookie for $250,000 in return.
“Just know, it’s real now, we’re talking real numbers,” said Thibodaux, laughing. “And when you tell someone 250, I don’t know what 250 means. You forget all the zeros behind it. Things are very different now.”
Thibodaux acknowledged that No. 5 is “something I’ve been pursuing” but added that he respects Gano and knows the kicker has five children, “there’s a lot of conversation to be had before anything can shake.” ”
But he also said “numbers don’t make players; players make numbers.” And he said he felt a real early connection with Schoen and defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale when they met.
“You can’t fake it, you know?” They said.
Neil and Thibodaux were clearly tired of all the emotions of the last 48 hours.
“It’s been a wonderful few days,” Neil said. “They’ve been around a long time. But they’ve been awesome.”
But he will soon have the opportunity to put his stamp on directing this Giants franchise. And Thibodaux’s visit promises to be especially amusing and impressive given how Schoen’s tenure eventually pans out.