NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might fit their needs, along with some hidden gems. In this installment, we profile South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw.
South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw is not even close to being a finished product.
His unlimited, untapped potential, motivation and willingness to work has to be tempting for the 49ers, and especially defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, as the club might give Kinlaw strong consideration for the No. 13 overall pick.
“I haven’t even scratched the surface to my pass rush,” Kinlaw said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “A lot of the times, I just be out there bull-rushing, just walking guys back. So once I get that right coaching, the sky is the limit.”
NFL teams want to get to the core of draft prospects to find out what motivates them to play football. For Kinlaw, it’s simple. He does not want his one-year-old daughter, Eden Amara, to experience what he went through as a child.
“Right now it’s just my baby,” he said. “I’ve got a baby girl that I’ve got to provide for and I never want her to grow up how I grew up and those kind of situations.”
Kinlaw and his family members were homeless for a while after his mother brought the family from Trinidad to the Washington D.C. area in 1995. They moved to Mississippi and South Carolina throughout his childhood.
Kinlaw excelled in football but academic issues sent him to a junior college after high school. He turned it around. He had no other choice.
“Just getting to college. Just having somewhere that I knew I wasn’t going to get put out of,” he said. “Just having three meals. I always tell people I didn’t go to junior college for football, really. I just went because I had somewhere to sleep. I had free food. That’s really why I went. 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 somewhere to sleep.”
Kinlaw earned a scholarship to South Carolina and ultimately became a team captain and First-Team All-American.
Kinlaw stood out at the Senior Bowl in January. He did not work out at the NFL Scouting Combine as he rehabbed from knee tendinitis.
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The 49ers have a big hole to fill in the middle of their defensive line with the trade that sent DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. Kinlaw certainly would pick up the slack on early downs from the moment he steps on the field.
Over time, the 49ers could develop Kinlaw's pass-rush skills to make him a dominant, three-down player.
NFL draft profile: Javon Kinlaw
Weight: 324 pounds
College: South Carolina
Career stats: 82 tackles, 10 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, eight passes defensed in three seasons.
40-yard dash: NA
Vertical jump: NA
Broad jump: NA
20-yard shuttle: NA
What experts are saying
Todd McShay, ESPN on Kinlaw’s performance at the Senior Bowl: “This is about making money and getting to the next level and putting yourself in the best position. Kinlaw, probably above anyone else there, stood out.”
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media: "Kinlaw is a hulking defensive tackle prospect. He does need to broaden his arsenal of moves, but there is tremendous upside. His effort is solid. Kinlaw showed out against elite competition, but he played down to the level of lesser opponents. Overall, Kinlaw's best football is in front of him and he has Pro Bowl potential.”
Josh Norris, NBC Sports: " I understand if people question Kinlaw’s lack of production - 10 sacks in his collegiate career. To me, his final season was incredibly similar to Jadeveon Clowney’s -- incredible individual disruption that should have resulted in clean up production by his teammates, yet too often they were nowhere to be found.”
Lance Zierlein, NFL Media: "He can be a disruptive force along the interior with that explosive first step and freaky physical gifts. No matter the front, Kinlaw's traits and potential could make him a solid starter early in his career.”
Draft projection: First round (top 20 overall)