Once Homeless, First-Round DT Javon Kinlaw Meets Cowboys at Combine

Mike Fisher

South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw is an eye-catching prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft, a first-round talent with a notable backstory who teams are getting to know at this NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

And the Dallas Cowboys, having put him at or near the top of their interviewee list, want to know more.

We can go back to the Senior Bowl, with guidance from David Helman of DallasCowboys.com reporting from Mobile on the top D-tackles he eyeballed: Helman writes:

Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina – The name you're going to hear the most about. The unquestioned star of the Senior Bowl practices, and a guy that may go off the board before Dallas picks at No. 17. He's huge, powerful and can play a multitude of different positions. I've heard people compare his body type to David Irving, and it makes sense. Say no more.

We can go to his position coach's review:

“Javon makes you smile as a coach. He’s physical. He’s a tough-minded guy,” defensive line coach John Scott Jr. told The Athletic. “There’s not many 6-6, 300-plus pound guys who have his athleticism. He’s strong, and he’s got something that only God can give you, extremely long arms. He can separate off blockers with quick twitch. If you had to draw up the body type for that league, that would be it.” 

And we can rely on our friend Dane Brugler's scouting report:

"A three-year starter at South Carolina, Kinlaw lined up at defensive tackle in Will Muschamp’s four-man front, spending most of his time on the outside shade of the guard or head-up over the center. His college production was unimpressive (10.5 career sacks), but the tape shows him facing constant double-teams and minimal chances to pad the stat sheet.

"Kinlaw aces the eye test with his massive frame and shows the length and initial burst to win quickly, using his immediate momentum to put blockers on their heels and create movement. Although his upright play style can be a detriment, especially when attempting to break down in small areas, he has a ready-made body type and his height helps create clear sight lines to the football. Overall, Kinlaw won’t live up to his draft spot if he doesn’t improve his consistency from a technical standpoint, but his combination of length, raw power and gap quickness creates flashes of Kansas City Chiefs’ Chris Jones, projecting as a high-upside NFL starter.''

Kinlaw is a fascinating player with a fascinating backstory, having been homeless at times growing up in Washington, D.C.

"You just can't give up on yourself,'' said Kinlaw. "Times definitely get rough. ... I didn't really expect myself to even be here. I didn't expect myself to be a collegiate athlete. But I stuck it out. I stuck with it.''

Kinlaw will find a home in the first round of this NFL Draft. Combine his talent with some of the holes on the Dallas roster and this could be a cozy situation for all involved.

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