2020 draft prospect Javon Kinlaw has an incredible story. The South Carolina defensive tackle had a rough upbringing, and was homeless for much of his childhood. As he prepares for the next chapter of his journey, Kinlaw gave an interview to Kimberly Jones of NFL.com. He said he doesn’t think about his past all that much, and called himself “hands down, without a doubt,” the best defensive tackle in the draft. He’s competing with Auburn’s Derrick Brown for that title, and is a lock to be a first-round pick. Although providing for his young daughter will be great, Kinlaw said his large rookie contract won’t be the best part. “Money’s going to be there and that’s cool,” he said. “But I love football. I’m just happy I get the chance to do what very few get a chance to do. I get a chance to play the game you grow up seeing. To have it as a job? You can’t ask for more than that.”
Kinlaw didn’t play in the Senior Bowl because of knee tendinitis and then didn’t work out at the combine, but it doesn’t sound like there are serious injury concerns. One team evaluator told Jones that Kinlaw’s recent medical reports came back clean. The former Gamecock said he’s spoken with “about 14 teams” in advance of the draft. Kinlaw could very well go inside the top ten, and he shouldn’t have to wait too long to hear his name called.
Here’s more from around the league as draft week approaches:
- For all the talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the draft and potential technical malfunctions that could ensure while conducting it virtually, it could be even more disruptive for the undrafted free agent process. Undrafted free agency normally moves very fast as the draft wraps up, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe spoke to some agents who think it’ll get complicated. One agent said it will be a “complete mess” and that “if they operate the same way this year there’s going to be more deals being reneged because they filled too many spots.” There are apparently concerns of communication issues in the frenzy that usually takes place, and as an example Volin writes that a “safeties coach could call a player and tell him to expect an offer, not realizing that [his team doesn’t] have the roster space.” Some around the league are calling for a gap to make things smoother. “Make it a separate day. Doing it on the third day of the draft this year is going to be miserable,” one agent argued. “I don’t see why everybody wouldn’t be on board with that.” Volin notes that he reached out to a league spokesman to see if they’d consider pushing it back, but got no response.
- When the Lions gave Halapoulivaati Vaitai a big five-year, $50MM deal, most assumed he would take over for Ricky Wagner at right tackle, but that’s apparently not necessarily the case. Detroit GM Bob Quinn recently indicated the team might opt to play him at right guard, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). “We feel like we can plug him in either spot. … We’ll kind of see where the roster shapes up,” Quinn said. Birkett notes in a follow-up tweet that they certainly paid him like a right tackle, but may opt to kick him inside if there’s a tackle they really want early in this draft. They have Taylor Decker at left tackle. Vaitai was highly regarded in Philadelphia, but was buried behind the Eagles’ surplus of tackles, so he only started four games over the past two years.