Senior Bowl: Kinlaw motivated to be "best ever"

South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw (3) warms-up before an NCAA college football game against Kentucky Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina defeated Kentucky 24-7. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw (3) warms-up before an NCAA college football game against Kentucky Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina defeated Kentucky 24-7. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

MOBILE, Ala. – Javon Kinlaw is one of college football's best players.

That's true on the field – and he's good in front of a camera, too. Kinlaw, who figures to be a major topic for Jaguars observers in the coming months, was intriguing and entertaining Monday evening in his Senior Bowl kickoff press conference.

His most notable quote? That may have come when the University of South Carolina defensive tackle was asked his ultimate goal as a football player.

"Honestly? I want to be the best D-tackle who has ever played this game," Kinlaw said. "I stand firm in that."

That's long-term, lofty stuff. Kinlaw in the short term is one of the draft's premier players at his position – a consensus first-round selection and a player Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy on Monday called perhaps the game's top prospect this year after Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.

"He's a really, really explosive guy," Nagy said. "He's just scratching the surface."

Kinlaw (6-feet-6, 310 pounds) who transferred to South Carolina after a year at Jones County Junior College, opted to return to South Carolina for his senior season. He was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection as a senior, when he registered six sacks.

If six sacks isn't an eye-catching total, Kinlaw was straightforward – and confident – when asked if he worried if people would hold the statistic against him during the draft process.

"Statistics aren't everything," he said. "Go sit down and watch the tape. It will speak for me."

Kinlaw was equally forthcoming about why he chose to participate in the Senior Bowl while many players considered first-round locks choose to forego the game to avoid injury or to guard against hurting their draft status.

"I'm a competitor and I love to compete," he said. "That's the reason I came here."

Look for Kinlaw to be linked often with the Jaguars in the coming months. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus' organizational status is uncertain because of salary-cap concerns, and the Jaguars struggled against the run last season. Interior defensive line figures to be a focus for the Jaguars in the draft, and Kinlaw is widely regarded as the draft's top defensive tackle after Derrick Brown of Auburn.

Nagy said while Kinlaw is perhaps ideally a three-technique tackle, he can play multiple tackle positions along the line.

"He's so versatile because he's so big and so athletic," Nagy said.

NOTABLE I

Before Gardner Minshew II endeared himself to Jacksonville he did the same to Nagy and others around the Senior Bowl. Minshew, who finished his rookie season last season as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, participated in the 2019 Senior Bowl. "Gardner was fun to watch this year," Nagy said. "You had Minshew Mania taking off and we had all these pictures from Mobile where he's doing his thing. We tried to get him back here for our Mardi Gras parade this year. I actually reached out to him." Nagy said Minshew couldn't attend the parade, which will be held Friday, because he is currently touring the country in an RV – a tour that has garnered much attention on social media. "That's why he's not here," Nagy said with a smile.

QUOTABLE I

Kinlaw: "I watched a lot of guys. I just think I just can't compare myself to anybody. I just think I'm a different body type, a different body style – something that has rarely ever been seen before. I've got a lot of potential to be unleashed. I'm ready to learn. I'm ready to unleash it."

QUOTABLE II

Former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts on playing the Senior Bowl in Alabama after playing his final college season for Oklahoma this past season: "I think it's really cool. It's a special thing, just to be back here. It's the first time being back in probably a year and some change. It will be cool. I'm going to get out here and play."

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