Lost amid the excitement over Drew Lock and the Broncos new offense is that Vic Fangio enters year two rebuilding the defense to fit his system. There’s a great deal of uncertainty about the status of Derek Wolfe, while Shelby Harris and Adam Gotsis are all but surely gone from last year’s roster. In their stead is mostly unproven defensive line talent in a system that counts on big bodies to both eat blocks and create pressure on the quarterback.
For all those reasons, a premier addition to the Broncos defensive line could make a ton of sense. There isn’t a better fit for what Fangio wants to do than South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw.
- Very good athletic ability with the size and explosiveness you build in a lab.
- Very good play strength, he has the power to bowl over blockers.
- Elite burst out of stance. He has a very explosive first step.
- Good pass rusher with potential for improvement. Heavy hands and a nasty bull rush give opponents fits.
- Good run defender who can two gap and penetrate.
- Naturally strong hands, but will need to improve placement in order to more consistently win at next level.
- Brings the requisite movement ability to be a weapon on stunts and slants.
- Adequate diagnosing plays, will overrun ball carrier.
- Best as part of a rotation to maximize his effectiveness.
- Better down to down leverage would increase his effectiveness.
- Needs to develop more rush moves and counters to reach potential against pass.
- Knee tendinitis bears monitoring. Medicals at Combine could be big for his draft stock.
What I’ve heard/read:
Kinlaw, who was the youngest of his three brothers, and only 10 years old at the time, experienced periods of homelessness and while there were brief stints with family friends, the comfort of knowing where shelter may have come from was a week-to-week unknown. Basements, one bedroom homes, and many unfortunate circumstances, he and has family have been through it all.
Javon Kinlaw projects as a starting defensive tackle at the NFL level. Kinlaw’s build, hand power and linear explosiveness make him an ideal B-gap defender in the NFL, whether that comes as a 3T or as a 5T in odd fronts. Kinlaw’s ability to collapse the POA with his punch is impressive and allows him to transition into a variety of hand counters in order to clear his frame and push for penetration into the pocket. Should be an impact starter in the pros.
Javon Kinlaw is a Day 1 target for any team looking to add a starter on the defensive line, and will be a high priority add for teams looking to increase their disruption up front. A hugely powerful athlete with a wicked first step, Kinlaw demolishes blocking schemes and pocket integrity with regularly. Kinlaw can 1-gap or 2-gap with equal success at the NFL level given his elite toolkit, and his potential as a pass-rusher is sky-high. Inconsistencies regarding Kinlaw’s leverage and pass rush moves limit his ceiling as a one-on-one winner as an interior pass rusher, but by moving him around the line and sticking him in gaps, you’ll get quality pass rush ability in Year 1. Kinlaw is a candidate for Pro Bowl bids the moment he steps on the field, and has the physical tools of the top defensive tackles in the league if he continues to grow.
Good defensive tackles do grow on trees, as the position is arguably the deepest in the NFL. But there are only a handful of defensive tackles who approach the “elite” tier at the position, and even fewer that are consistently in that tier year after year. Simply put, if you can’t consistently make plays behind the line of scrimmage in the run and (especially) the pass game, you’re not going to have much value as an interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
Javon Kinlaw’s talent and inspiring backstory will make him a hot commodity next month. After battling some knee tendinitis, he opted not to participate in anything at the combine. All eyes will be on his Pro Day workout to see how well he moves on his knee. Kinlaw may also clock a 40-yard dash faster than what’s expecting of him. If he’s able to perform well, Kinlaw could cement his status as a top-15 selection.
For a player with so many elite physical traits, Kinlaw’s tape was much more inconsistent than expected. He had moments where he was able to use his size, length and power to overwhelm opponents, but poor pad level and an inability to harness his energy coming off the snap led to body control and balance issues that prevented him from reaching his full potential. He can be a disruptive force along the interior with that explosive first step and freaky physical gifts, but utilizing his heavy hands and plus length as a read-and-react 3-4 end might allow for improved technique, control and consistency. No matter the front, Kinlaw’s traits and potential could make him a solid starter early in his career.
Kinlaw’s blend of size, length, explosiveness, and production is a tried and true winning formula when projecting to the NFL. No one is a ‘sure thing’ in the NFL draft, but drafting Kinlaw is a very low-risk proposition.
Why he fits
From what I’ve seen so far, there isn’t a better defensive lineman in this class for what Fangio wants. Kinlaw has the length, strength, physicality, and explosiveness to be a disruptive starter and future star as a defensive end in base personnel before sliding into the interior in passing situations. He brings many of the same traits fans love about Derek Wolfe with an additional 40 lbs of good weight. He’ll need coaching to maximize his natural tools, but the arrow is clearly pointing up.
I currently have Kinlaw as a top six player for the Broncos and hope the coaching staff and Elway gives him serious consideration if he’s somehow available. Interior pass rush isn’t as flashy as the kind of big sack totals players like Von Miller and Bradley Chubb can put up, but could prove key to slowing down and defeating the Patrick Mahomes Chiefs.
Would you be happy if the Broncos drafted Javon Kinlaw?
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