Over the years, as two of the most highly regarded athletes in their high school class, there was thunder. We have to see these two going against each other. Will Kywan Thibodaux’s cat-first move be better than Evan Neil’s in a big way? Or, will Neil’s wings and power stop little Thibodaux in his tracks?
The two — Neil from Florida, Thibodaux from South Los Angeles — appeared together in recruitment camps, but never faced each other in the actual game. Maybe they never will. Maybe they’ll spend their entire NFL career right where they’re starting out, with the Giants. If so, the cloak of losing the giants that had been covering them for so long would be removed and cut.
“It’s just ironic that we ended up on the same NFL team,” Neil said on Saturday. “Just excited to go up against him every day and make each other better. I believe that iron sharpens iron.
If what’s happening in practice this summer is an appetizer to the main course, the Giants may look back on the 2022 draft — especially during the first round they reeled in — as nurturing that. which strengthened his suffrage. Four days into training camp, the sight of Thibodaux lining up on the outside linebacker and blasting his way toward Neil, the perfect tackle, adds to the vibes of being in the studio when two young, talented songwriters craft their nascent tunes.
These two 21-year-olds have yet to play an NFL game. Heck, they have yet to strap on shoulder pads and engage in an actual NFL practice. It will be on Monday, when Neil and Thibodaux, the foundation pieces for a Giants revitalization, take turns showing what all the fuss is about.
Thibodeaux was taken with the number 5-overall pick. Neil was selected at number 7. They add that they are the first choice of new General Manager Joe Scion, and they are high-profile, prestigious prospects in premium positions.
“Certainly,” said Thibodaux. “Football is a game of trenches. Starting in the trenches by the guy on top was a great choice. I think as we get older and we’ve matured, we’ll keep growing and getting closer together and Will continue to bring both sides forward.
For now, they fight. Thibodaux moves from side to side and goes against Andrew Thomas’ left arm. More often, he is positioned on the left side of the defense, wide, with Neil and his 6-foot-7 frame ready to block the attack.
Without any pads, Thibodeaux often looks like a cheetah chasing its prey, exiting the line of scrimmage with a darting burst. He has few reps against Thomas, in which it looked like the rookie got the better of his third-year left tackle, coming from off-season ankle surgery. Thibodaux’s photographs, on the other hand, have not been as effective against Neil. Better Tests will come when the hitting starts this week.
“We are waiting to put the pads on to see where everyone is going with full speed and full physicality,” said defensive lineman Leonard Williams. “So far [Thibodeaux] – We are all, not just him – just trying to learn the playbook and pace of the game.
Williams is entering his eighth NFL season and has knocked heads with novice offensive linemen over the years. He knows the drill. The more hypnotized they are, the more often they are asked if they are good.
“Evan Neal, he’s going to be a great player – it’s fun to go against him,” Williams said. “He’s big, he’s strong and he’s catching the game very quickly.”
Neil and Thibodaux, if they live up to the huge expectations placed on them, could top the best Giants draft ever. In the Super Bowl era, Carl Banks and William Roberts were the team’s top two picks in 1984. Ike Hilliard and Tiki Barber were the top two in 1997. Perhaps by 2020 Thomas and Xavier McKinney will be in talks.
Thibodeaux said that he and Neil “share information every now and then,” but mostly they face each other in practice in relative silence—an interesting turn of events considering how disgusting Thibodeaux can be.
“Quite honestly, he’s not chirping that way,” Neil said. “We’re just putting our heads down and we’re done. He hits me some reps, I give him some reps.
“He doesn’t want to tell me any of his secrets. I won’t give him anything of mine. I’m sure he’s looking at me the way I see him.”
We are all watching.
“There’s a reason they drafted us,” Neil said. “We’re still young, we’re still rookie, we’re still figuring out the process.”
If they get the hang of it, the Giants will be on their way.