The Dallas Cowboys have signed some veterans to play defensive tackle position, but are still looking for younger options. In a draft with some solid defensive tackles, when would be the best time to grab one?
Over a month ago it felt like the Cowboys had no shot at drafting Javon Kinlaw. Many of the mock drafts that analysts ran saw Kinlaw going at around the pick 10-15 range. Now Kinlaw was landing with the Cowboys on 80 percent of the trials I ran. Quite surprising considering several teams near the front have traded their picks or players.
Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Round Grade: 1st
Percentage Availability: 80%
Javon Kinlaw has an insane athletic profile. Standing at 6-foot-5, 324 pounds with 34 7/8 inch arms, Kinlaw is a big guy with an explosive first step. His long arms help him win at the point of attack and his strength will drive linemen backward into their quarterbacks. Great attributes to have as a pass-rushing interior defensive lineman.
Kinlaw’s athletic upside is through the roof and when everything comes together, he is difficult to stop. Unfortunately, he is still a very raw prospect. What Kinlaw more then makes up for in athleticism, he lacks in technique.
A noteworthy issue is the defensive tackle’s slower reaction times. At first, it doesn’t seem so noticeable, but when he routinely engages at the point of attack a hair slower than his opposition you can immediately see why he isn’t as effective. The split second that guards and centers have to set their base goes a long way in making sure he can’t get to the backfield.
This issue is part of the reason why he has inconsistent hand placement. When you aren’t the first one at the point of attack, you can’t get your hands on the pads of the opposing player hence losing a lot of leverage you could potentially have. With Kinlaw’s freakishly long arms, this shouldn’t be as big of an issue as it is currently.
The last issue is an overaggressive motor limit. This sounds weird but this seriously reduces his effectiveness as a run stopper. In an attempt to try to beat the man in front of him, he loses track of the ball can allow people to run past him. He doesn’t have the ball awareness and gap discipline just yet; fortunately, this is a fixable issue.
I believe Kinlaw is the first player the Cowboys should be targeting in the first round. Not only is there a high probability that he ends up at 17, but also he would be filling a major position of need for the team.