Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux's rookie campaign got off to a slow start after a sprained MCL delayed his NFL debut to Week 3, but the 2022 No. 5 overall pick still put together a performance worthy of a fourth-place finish in the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.
Thibodeaux, who had four sacks, five passes defended, two forced fumbles and a touchdown, sounded less impressed than anyone on Sunday regarding his output.
"I think every time you look back at a play, you feel like you could have ate a little bit more," he told reporters, per the team transcript. "Last year's film kind of disgusts me a little bit when I look at myself. I get a little cringe feeling. But it definitely is, like I said, a platform to continue to grow."
As for why he cringes at the tape?
"Anytime you look at your younger self, you always see how you've evolved and matured. So, now it's me understanding who I was and who I am now and who I'm consistently growing to be."
Rather than having satisfaction or complacency about proving he belonged last season, Thibodeaux's sour impression of his rookie self should foster motivation to improve. It also makes some sense when compared to his contemporaries.
While Thibodeaux made an impact for a Giants team that surprised with a playoff run, the shelf between him and the top-two Defensive Rookie of the Year vote-getters was steep.
Thibodeaux will look to catch up to his fellow top-five draftees in Year 2 as Big Blue similarly looks to gain ground on the Cowboys and Eagles in the NFC East.
New York reached the postseason last year and scored an upset over the Vikings to reach the Divisional Round for the first time since 2011, but it still finished third in the division.
Whether his contributions this season involve improving on his individual numbers or simply making himself felt on the field, the Giants' promising young LB only cares that the end result is helping his squad continue its ascent.
"Last year I had so many goals and I had so many numbers and statistics on what I wanted to be," Thibodeaux said. "I just want to be great. I want to help my team win. I want to be a guy who can make plays and make the plays when they count. I'm not really too fixated on numbers, I'm just fixated on really having an impact every game and being available every game."