While not everybody is a fan of player comparisons they do serve a purpose of showing what a player can become or even the style of player they are. Now some comparisons are just grasping at straws to find someone but others are just perfect fits in multiple ways. It didn’t take long into the Javon Kinlaw tape to immediately think of Jerry Tillery who was taken with the 28th pick in last year’s NFL Draft. Here we’ll take a look at how Kinlaw resembles Tillery and whether or not he can follow his footsteps in being a first round pick.
One easy way to compare players is based off of their size and that is the case with Kinlaw and Tillery as both defensive tackles are 6’6 and right around 300lbs and long arms. Size isn’t the only natural comparison as both Tillery and Kinlaw both move well for their size showing burst and lateral agility that allow him to create penetration and attack the ball.
During Jerry Tillery’s junior season he was mainly used inside in the A gap lining up against guards and the center on a regular basis. While he was able to flash his playmaking ability playing against much smaller lineman really created issues for him because of his height. It wasn’t till his senior year where Tillery was moved outside to the 3 technique where he was able to fully utilize his skill set and wreck havoc. A lot of those similarities are there for Kinlaw who is also asked to play more of a nose tackle role in South Carolina’s defense. His quickness, length and power would be much better served sliding outside where he can attack the B gap and not face a constant double team on every play. Will South Carolina do it, only time will tell.
Leading into the 2019 NFL Draft there may not have been a defensive tackle that had better hand usage than Jerry Tillery. His heavy hands long with a variety of pass rushing moves allowed him to knock lineman off balance and get penetration. While Javon Kinlaw isn’t as refined as Tillery he does use his hands well in the run game to engage with lineman and create space while also being able to shed blocks to attack in the run game. As a pass rusher Kinlaw has shown both a club and rip along with the ability to get underneath lineman and just put them on skates.
Normally a tall and relatively lean defensive tackles don’t possess much power and are more of finesse pass rushing option. That wasn’t the case with Jerry Tillery and it isn’t with Javon Kinlaw. Not only does Kinlaw have good strength but he’s able to use his long arms to create space and then leverage to hold the point of attack but also to drive the lineman back to create a push. From there Kinlaw is able to use his power to shed blocks and attack the running back to make tackles.
Javon Kinlaw NFL Draft Outlook
Already in life Javon Kinlaw has overcome so much to get to South Carolina and be in a position to be drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. His similarities to Jerry Tillery and a relatively weak defensive tackle class could allow him to rise up the rankings and go early because there is a drop off after him, just like Tillery. The big question is whether Kinlaw is able to take that next step during his senior season. Can Kinlaw make the jump from just 4 sacks to double digits, just like Tillery did? If Kinlaw is able to continue to refine his game and get some production behind him there is a great shot that he is drafted at the end of the first round. If not he’s looking like a mid round upside prospect.