49ers

49ers 2020 NFL Draft grades: Javon Kinlaw is home-run pick at No. 14

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The 49ers moved back from their initial first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday night, and still ended up with a premium prospect in South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at No. 14.

Landing Kinlaw would have been quite a coup regardless, but the additional fourth-round pick the 49ers added in trading back from the 13th pick to the 14th makes it an overwhelming success. The 49ers later used that fourth-round pick in a trade package that moved them up from No. 31 to No. 25 in the first round to grab Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, thus addressing another position of need.

Kinlaw, arguably the top defensive lineman prospect in the entire draft, should slot right into the vacancy created by DeForest Buckner's departure in a trade that actually produced this pick.

Kinlaw, 22, was named a first-team All-American after totaling six sacks and six tackles for a loss as a senior with the Gamecocks. Over his collegiate career, he amassed 82 tackles, 10 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and eight passes defensed. He did not test at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he was one of the standouts at the Senior Bowl with his impressive athleticism. At 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, Kinlaw is quite a load to handle in the middle of the line, and he gets tremendous penetration.

 

A native of Trinidad, Kinlaw hasn't played football all that long. He spent much of his childhood homeless and moved often. He attended junior college right out of high school before making his way to South Carolina, where he played in 37 of 38 games and became a team captain.

[RELATED: Kinlaw says 49ers are the team he'd most like to draft him]

While he's quite the athletic specimen, Kinlaw will need to work on improving his leverage once engaged, and he'd benefit from developing some additional counter moves. Still, just based on pure talent level -- at a crucial position of need, nonetheless -- this was pretty close to a home run for San Francisco.

Yes, some tantalizing receivers still were on the board, but Kinlaw is a tremendous prospect at a position with far less depth. The 49ers maneuvered the draft board quite well again, and should be thrilled with adding Kinlaw to what already was the most feared defensive line in all of football, with Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa alongside him.

GRADE: A

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