Last week saw every player who went through Dylan’s Dimes come out on the winning side. Not only that, but George Karlaftis had a coming out party on a bright stage upsetting then #2 ranked Iowa. Now, this week, the fortune will look to continue as I highlight one of the most athletic playmakers in the class, an instinctual safety with a high football IQ and the MOST talked about player in this class.
Dylan’s Dimes will be a ten step breakdown of three of the biggest draft eligible players taking the field in some of the biggest matchups each week. I analyze background, on the field performance, off the field traits, opinions around the NCAA, all leading up to the dropping the dime on how they could fit with gang green.
This week, leading us off is an athletic safety with a nack for making plays. He made a statement as a key piece of Northwestern’s success last season, and now looks to be a potential top safety if he chooses to come out this year. That player is, Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern.
On the court, on the field, doesn’t matter, this guy finds a way to make plays. A rare two sport player, this athlete is a crucial piece of the USC Trojans football and basketball program. He’s a versatile player (get ready to hear that over and over until April) and one of the most exciting playmakers in the class. The second player going through the gauntlet is, Drake London, WR, USC.
Since this time last year, he was making headlines and being touted as one of the best in the 2022 draft. He’s missed some time this season, but when on the field, he’s undoubtedly one of, if not the best. The Ducks have had success this season, but Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon, figures to have success, now and beyond.
-From: College Station, Texas
-From: Moorpark, California
-From: South Los Angeles, California
Grew up a texan at heart, born and raised in College Station, Texas. At College Station high, Joseph was an all-state safety, racking up 95 tackles with 10 passes broken up and five interceptions. Joseph originally intended to remain in Texas, at Texas Tech. Then, Joseph surprised and committed to Northwestern. Joseph was highly touted and following his freshman year even ranked in as one of the top safeties in college football according to PFF.
London is a freak of nature. At Moorpark high school, London is forever stitched in history. In his senior year, he had 62 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 12 scores. London also averaged a double-double on the court with 29.2 PPG, and an average of 11.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists. London was highly regarded in both basketball and football recruiting circles and ended up staying in California, joining the Trojans for basketball and football.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is no stranger to the spotlight. Thibodeaux wrecked havoc at Oaks Christian in LA, earning USA Today’s Defensive Player of the year honor in 2018. A two time high school All-American and the top recruit in the country, Thibodeaux was approached to lend his services to almost every college in the country. Ultimately, he chose Oregon and it’s paid off thus far as he was awarded PAC-12 defensive freshman of the year in 2019 and then followed it up with a Morris Trophy as the best defensive lineman in the country in 2020.
2020 & 2021 Statistics:
2020: 8 games, 46 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 6 INTs and 2 pass deflections.
2021: 6 games, 40 tackles, an INT, 2 pass deflections and a fumble recovery.
2020: 6 games, 33 receptions, 502 yards, 15.2 YPR and 3 TDs.
2021: 6 games, 64 receptions, 832 yards, 13.0 YPR and 5 TDs.
2020: 7 games, 42 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 3.0 sacks and 3 pass deflections.
2021: 3 games, 13 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble.
The first thing that stands out to me about Joseph is his playmaking ability. He constantly makes a play on the ball and that’s evidenced in his six interceptions his first year. He recognizes plays and swarms quickly. His range is very good and it’s benefited by his play recognition abilities which are also at a high level.
It’s been something I’ve reiterated, but London is a true natural born athlete. His athleticism and speed is a rare blend that allows him to capitalize on any and all opportunities to make game changing plays. He constantly finds a way to take advantage of his touches. His pure skill set makes up one of the most exciting molds of a prospect I’ve evaluated in this class.
At 6’5”, 258lbs, Thibodeaux is a big man, but moves so fluid that it’s a nightmare for blockers. His agility and frame are his biggest weapons, but his pass rushing moves are beyond what’s expected at this point in his career. Thibodeaux has a high football IQ that makes him aware and able to adapt at all times, even if he makes a mistake. He’s a refined weapon capable of immediate impact.
Joseph strikes me as a player better suited to be a single high safety, but he’s not demonstrated versatility to play all over like most safeties in today’s NFL. Joseph’s tackling could stand to improve as he tends to throw his body rather than take a tactical approach. Lastly, Joseph is undersized and his frame is a slight concern.
London’s skill set is a massive asset to any offense, but his routes aren’t as refined as other prospects. He lacks crispness and efficiency in his movement. He’s an abysmal pass blocker and lacks effort at points. In more sophisticated coverages, London has had hiccups, but overall his athleticism can mask some of the flaws.
Thibodeaux’s two biggest flaws are his size and his over reliance on speed. Filling out his frame will give him a little more bulk to add another dimension to his game and give him more confidence in using power moves rather than speed. He’s not perfect, but even his size is nitpicking.
7/10-The Focus of Improvement:
Moving forward, Joseph has the skillset and IQ to slot in as a quality starter at the next level. His original projection prior to the season from me was a 1st rounder. This season has showed more of his flaws, but he still has the potential to be an impact player at the next level in the right scheme.
London has the makeup of a legitimate number one option somewhere down the road. His talent makes him a high reward prospect. His floor is a comfortable third option who can be called upon to make a play. If he reaches his ceiling, he has star potential.
Simply put, I’ll save you the time, Thibodeaux can reach star level and beyond. All and all, his floor is a disruptive force a la Jadeveon Clowney, but his ceiling is elite level pass rusher.
9/10-The Outside Opinion:
“On the defensive side, All-American safety Brandon Joseph and linebacker Chris Bergin provide experience and leadership for the young Wildcats group. Joseph has a strong presence in the secondary, but opponents tend to direct their offense around him.”-Brandon Brownoct, Sports Illustrated
“London still hasn’t reached his full potential. But the runway is now clear and with a single sport in mind, the big kid with the Little Tikes hoop is ready for takeoff.”- Paolo Uggetti, ESPN
“Thibodeaux is blessed with insane athletic ability. He’s fast, explosive, agile, with an exceptional change-of-direction ability. His explosive first step at the line of scrimmage causes nightmares for the man tasked with halting his progress to the quarterback. The Oregon defensive end effortlessly translates speed to power as a rusher and routinely forces linemen backward into their quarterback’s path.”- Oliver Hodgkinson, Pro Football Network
I like Brandon Joseph, but he is not worth either first round selection. If the Jets can nab him in the second that would be a great move as he could soften a potential Marcus Maybe loss. He is talented, but safety is not as valuable as other positions of need.
Adding London would not be a bad idea for the Jets. Talent in any capacity is good, but the Jets have allowed two high selections on receivers in back to back years. With so many other positions of need, the Jets should focus elsewhere with their early selection as tantalizing as London would be.
If the Jets can get Kayvon Thibodeaux, they do. Edge rusher is not their most paramount need, but the Jets would get a talent who can transform their pass rush with Carl Lawson and be a blue chip piece of their defense for the next decade. He’s a superstar with all-pro potential. As bad as the Jets are though, they likely won’t be picking first, meaning the odds of getting him are slim.