DeForest Buckner’s trade to the Indianapolis Colts left the 49ers with a big hole in their defensive line. A hole they plugged a month later when South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw was selected with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Great things are expected of Kinlaw, a physical monster with the engine to match his insane ability. While you won’t be asked to match Buckner’s output directly, it is unknown how good Kinlaw can be. Count Ronnie Lott as one of many who are excited to see Kinlaw dress in Santa Clara and believe that great things await one of the rare prospects who enter the league without weakness.
“The child that really excites many people is [Kinlaw] because he competed in a league that’s kind of amazing, “the Professional American Football Hall of Fame member told the NBC Sports Bay Area Monday.” I have met many children coming out of that particular conference. [SEC] and they are phenomenal athletes … When you leave that community and competition and the willingness to play with some of the best players in the country, that only makes you better. From what I have heard and what I have seen, he will give you everything.
“The difficult part in sport is finding the child who is going to give you everything. I mean everything in every play. Many times, we talk about seeing the greatness of athletes and they can give you something in every play, but they have to give you. something cool on every play. From what I understand, against some of the teams that he played against, people were raving because he was doing really amazing things against Alabama, against LSU. That tells you if he’s ready to compete at that level in that atmosphere, he should be ready to compete for the 49ers. “
Kinlaw was a dominant force every week he went out on the field in the SEC game. Facing some of the best athletes in college football, many of whom he will face on Sundays, Kinlaw was a force of nature in Columbia.
Javon Kinlaw is an absolute unit pic.twitter.com/FcRifumP4T
– Sam Hustis (@SamHustis) April 24, 2020
6-foot-5, 311-pound Kinlaw has a quick first step and rare physical gifts that make him a burden to drive inside. Some draft analysts questioned his production in South Carolina, as he only had 10 career sacks. He has a good arsenal of passing and rushing movements and offers effort with every shot. Much of his lack of production during his senior season was due to less talent around him.
Kinlaw was good at interrupting plays individually, but too often his teammates weren’t there to clean up the play.
There is much I like about Kinlaw. He is a strange athlete who is motivated in a way that many of the best teams do not have. Kinlaw and his family members were homeless for a time after their mother brought the family from Trinidad and Tobago. They moved to Mississippi and South Carolina throughout their childhood. While excelled in soccer, Kinlaw had academic problems. He turned him around in junior college because he knew he had no choice.
“I just got to college. Just having a place that I knew they were not going to take me out of, ”Kinlaw said in the NFL Scouting Combine. “I only have three meals. I always tell people that I didn’t actually go to college for soccer. I just went because I had a place to sleep. Had free food. That’s really what I went for. I didn’t go with the expectation that, ‘Man, I’m going to go to the SEC, I’m going to go to the league.’ I went because I had a place to sleep. “
Now the father of a young girl, Kinlaw is motivated to give her the life he had never had growing up.
“When he was born, it’s not that he hasn’t worked hard before, but I saw a boy who was on a mission,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp told the NBC Sports Bay Area in April. “[He] I understood that there was much more to him right now to take care of his daughter and take care of his family. ”[[[[RELATED: Why Lott Expects Jimmy G to Take the Game to the Next Level in 2020]
Buckner was a force in the middle of the 49ers defense last season with his ability to create internal pressure by allowing Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Arik Armstead to overwhelm the offensive lines.
Kinlaw, along with veterans like DJ Jones, will be tasked with filling the gap left by Buckner in 2020. The 49ers are poised to win now, and Kinlaw’s production and growth will play a big role in his return to the Super Bowl.
The future is bright for Kinlaw, and he believes in Lott.
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