Oregon Ducks defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who’s expected to be a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, suffered an injury against Fresno State on Saturday that forced him out of action and into a walking boot.
Stewart Mandel of The Athletic reported on Thibodeaux’s status when he emerged from the locker room at halftime out of uniform:
Thibodeaux’s impact was felt early on, as he exploded off the line of scrimmage to get a strip sack on Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener.
Just check out the quick-twitch athleticism flashed by Thibodeaux on this play, which set up an Oregon touchdown:
The momentum of Saturday’s game completely changed when Thibodeaux went down. He attempted to reenter the game, but was obviously hindered by the injury and didn’t continue. From there, Haener had much more time to throw in the pocket, giving the Bulldogs a legitimate upset chance at Autzen Stadium.
Since he at least attempted to get back on the field, the Ducks have to be encouraged about Thibodeaux’s status in a way. However, Week 2 presents a huge dilemma already.
Oregon is playing on the road against Ohio State next Saturday. If an upset is meant to happen in Columbus, it’s imperative that the Ducks have Thibodeaux. Unfortunately, that may too quick of a turnaround for him to recover.
There’s also the consideration for Thibodeaux’s draft stock and his future at the professional level. In our latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft, Thibodeaux is the No. 2 overall pick to the Detroit Lions. That’s how special he is.
From a competitive standpoint, obviously Thibodeaux is going to want to suit up versus the Buckeyes. Heck, a strong performance against them in such a high-profile matchup would cement his elite draft stock. That said, Oregon really needs to tread with caution here.
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Author: Matt Fitzgerald