Few players have had as tough a road to the NFL as Javon Kinlaw.
Growing up, Kinlaw was homeless for long stretches of his life, and at 14 had to ride a Greyhound Bus from Washington D.C. to South Carolina to live with his father. Fortunately for Kinlaw, that’s where he’d discover football. As a highschooler, he began to draw interest from top SEC schools, but his lack of motivation in the classroom and desire to provide for his family led to him dropping out of high school his senior year.
He got his life back on track at Jones County Junior College, where he spent his freshman season, before transferring to South Carolina, where he would blossom into a first-team All-American and soon-to-be first-round pick.
Kinlaw rose up boards quickly with excellent showings at the combine and the Senior Bowl, but would he be a good fit for the Broncos?
Javon Kinlaw has more upside as a pass rusher than any player who will be on the board when the Broncos are picking, whether they play on the edge or the interior. Now, that’s in part because this draft is very weak at edge rusher after Chase Young, but it has more to do with the rare physical specimen that is Kinlaw.
The first piece of what makes him so special is his exceptional power. Kinlaw does a good job of creating power with his feet to drive opposing offensive linemen back, which he did on a near-constant basis at the Senior Bowl. Also, his hands pack a punch, and you can see the explosiveness of them when he makes contact with a lineman.
The second element of what makes Kinlaw such a physical freak is his rare length at the position. At the combine, his arms were measured at just a hair under 35 inches, tied with edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos for the longest along defensive linemen in this year’s class. That kind of length isn’t too rare on the edge, but guards and centers don’t often have arms longer than 32 inches.
That gives Kinlaw a downright deadly bull rush, as he’s able to make first contact and keep the opponent’s hands off him with his length, and he also has the sheer strength to just bully guards and centers back into their quarterback.
At this point in his development, Kinlaw is somewhat of a bull in a China shop. He’s such a dominant athlete, he was able to impose his will on opponents with only his physical gifts and very little technique.
The positive of that is it shows just how special he is, but the drawback is, he was never forced to develop his technique, so that element of his game is still lacking quite a bit. He’ll have to work on that, as NFL linemen won’t let their lunch money get taken as easily.
He doesn’t attack the offense with a plan in mind of what pass-rushing moves to utilize in order to beat the guard across from him. Instead, he just charges in and attempts to run the guard over. The thing is, that often works for him.
Javon Kinlaw would be a slam-dunk first-round pick for the Broncos. His game is built for the future as interior pass rush becomes more valuable, and he also offers quite a bit of upside as a run defender.
He could use quite a bit of development and will have to land with the right coach, but the Broncos have that in Vic Fangio, Ed Donatell and their masterful defensive staff. Few places would be able to get the production out of him that Fangio could.
Draft Projection: Between picks 5-20
Player Comparison: Trevor Pryce