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Prospect Spotlight: Javon Kinlaw, defensive tackle

Today we spotlight and take a closer look at defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and why he would be a great fit for the San Francisco 49ers.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 South Carolina at Georgia


The San Francisco 49ers got bold in Free Agency and traded DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for the 13th overall pick in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. The popular, hopeful outcome from this is that the 49ers will use the 13th pick on a wide receiver. CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs certainly come to mind. However, what if the plan is to replace Buckner with a younger, cheaper, but highly talented rookie? What if a blue-chip, instant impact player such as Javon Kinlaw slides and lands in the 49ers’ laps?

NFL Combine - Day 3 Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

I know the fans have been begging for years for a true number one option at wide receiver. You can argue that except one great year out of Michael Crabtree, the team hasn’t had one since Terrell Owens. I hear you faithful, and I won’t be disappointed if the commissioner, from wherever they host this virtual draft announces one of Lamb, Jeudy, or Ruggs. However, please allow me to show and explain why you won’t be disappointed if the 49ers do, in fact, address the defensive line for the fourth time in the last five drafts.


Height: 6’5”

Weight: 324 lbs.

Arms: 34 7/8”

Hands: 10 ½”



Let’s start with his motor. Kinlaw has an outstanding initial burst and an explosive first step off the snap at the line of scrimmage. His ability to penetrate and violently bull-rush offensive lineman often required teams to double team and provide extra coverage. Sometimes it worked, and often it didn’t. The Georgia offensive line had a long day at the office this afternoon. Here is a prime example. Many times it was Kinlaw who forced the pocket to collapse with his charge.


Kinlaw has violent hands that he often broke by blockers, with a jolt of action. His hands are often heavy and ready for impact with oncoming blockers. Uses hand strength to maneuver around blockers to try and collapse the pocket. In my opinion, his hand power is one of the most under-appreciated strengths of Kinlaw’s game.


Kinlaw has outstanding physical traits for his position that scouts and evaluators seek at the next level. He has a thick, muscular frame, and is a slab on granite, who throughout the game grinds down his opponent. What separates Kinlaw from the rest of the defensive linemen in this draft class is his constant ability to win in the trenches. He has the capabilities of being a workhorse, three-down wrecking ball, wreaking havoc through the interior. This brings me to my next point. Before you read that next point, soak up these brief highlights.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Tennessee at South Carolina Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another major factor that raises the value of Javon Kinlaw is his versatility and ability to play at multiple positions. Defensive coordinators will be able to lineup Kinlaw based on the scheme that they are running. For the 49ers who already have many pieces in place along the line, Kinlaw is a great plug-and-play option.


We already know that Kinlaw has one of the best motors in this draft class. However, do not doubt his lateral quickness and take on blocks out wide. This is particular true when defending ball carriers on running plays. Kinlaw defends the edge well, and finishes tackles, quickly wrapping his opponent to the ground. Sometimes, in one moment, he goes from being out of a play to chasing down the ball carrier downfield, as seen below.


Javon Kinlaw made it a point to often disrupt and collapse the opponent’s pocket. His bull-rushing mentality led to broken up plays, dead plays, or outright turnovers. It’s not just the sacks, but his ability to bust up passing plays that makes him a top fifteen selection. So many times, Kinlaw can maneuver past pass protection with picks and spins with oncoming blockers along the line of scrimmage.


Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Javon Kinlaw is not going to cause instant excitement or jumping for joy if the 49ers select him. He is not that flashy, got-to-have-it wide receiver pick that most want. However, when the dust settles, in due time, Kinlaw will help the fanbase put Deforest Buckner in the rearview mirror. I’m not saying or expecting Kinlaw’s rookie season to match an all-pro like Buckner. Believe me; it wasn’t easy receiving that news that Buckner was traded. One of my favorites who will be sorely missed. However, give Kinlaw time, and he can quickly establish himself as part of the best defensive front in football. Kinlaw is the type of player you select in the first round because his contributions and impact make his teammates around him perform better. Your secondary is only as good as your defensive front. Kinlaw’s ability to bull-rush the line of scrimmage, wreak havoc in the pocket, and play high snap counts with his motor rarely cooling sounds like that blue-chip, instant impact player any team would love to have on their roster. Kinlaw is one of those rare and intimidating players where you whisper to your teammate on the sidelines, saying, “I’m sure glad he’s on our team.” I know a wide receiver is what most of the fanbase wants…However, Javon Kinlaw may just be what the 49ers need to keep their championship window open for years to come.

What are YOUR thoughts on Javon Kinlaw? Would you be satisfied if the 49ers selected him with the 13th overall pick? Please share in the comments below!