The '20 Draft: Defensive tackles

DerrickBrown

JACKSONVILLE – They dwarf all others at the position.

They're Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw, two defensive tackles who have been projected to the Jaguars early in the first round more often than any other players in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Those projections, of course, mean nothing come draft day. What the Jaguars will do is unknown.

Still, most analysts believe the pair are two of the draft's top players regardless of position – particularly Brown, an athletic interior player from Auburn who consistently has been projected anywhere from Nos. 3 to 10 overall.

"He's outstanding," NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "When when you plug him, you talk about immediate impact.

"He'll make an immediate impact on every single down as an interior player."

Jeremiah earlier this offseason said he had a similar grade on Brown as on Ohio State edge defender Chase Young, who is widely projected as the draft's top player regardless of position.

"He's a phenomenal player," Jeremiah said of Brown. "He's the closest thing to [longtime NFL defensive tackle] Ndamukong Suh. That's who he reminds me of when you watch him on college tape, so strong and powerful. He can really punch off blocks, separate, find the ball, make plays. He plays really hard."

Brown's status as a consensus Top 5 selection slipped following the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in late February. But while he struggled in the three-cone drill – considered key for interior linemen – as well as other on-field work there, analysts say Brown's college game performances are impressive enough to prevent a major slide.

"He's just a complete player," CBS NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson said. "I know he didn't run a great three-cone, but I don't think anyone cares if you watch him play. He was disruptive every week."

If Brown is the draft's consensus top defensive tackle, Kinlaw is just behind. ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently said he had Brown as his No. 6 overall prospect and Kinlaw No. 14.

"Javon Kinlaw is a little more raw," Wilson said. "He's an incredible pass rusher on the interior, so if that's what you're looking for, he's your guy.

"They're not entirely the same … Javon Kinlaw is a little taller. But they're both thick and strong. Derrick Brown has a little more nuance to his game, but if you told me both of those guys were in the Top 12, it would make sense to me."

Kinlaw's story has been well-documented throughout the pre-draft process. He was homeless at times growing up and didn't start playing football until high school. He first attended Jones (Miss.) Junior College before transferring to South Carolina, where he was an All-America selection this past season with six sacks and four quarterback pressures.

"He's a big freak," NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks said. "He can play anywhere along the line of scrimmage. He can absolutely dominate at the point of attack. He plays with an edge. He's one of the best athletes you'll find."

POSSIBLE FIRST-ROUND DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Derrick Brown, Auburn; Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina; Ross Blacklock, Texas Christian; Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma.

QUOTABLE I: "He's terrific at running people out at the point of attack. He's big. He's physical. He's athletic. He plays with a high motor. It's just hard to find guys that are able to do what he's able to do on the field. He's a Top-Five talent and a guy you can argue is one of the best players in the draft." – Brooks on Brown

CHANCES JAGUARS TAKE A DEFENSIVE TACKLE IN ROUND 1

Very high.

JAGUARS AT DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Taven Bryan, Al Woods, Rodney Gunter, Abry Jones, Brian Price.

OEHSER ANALYSIS

The Jaguars seem as likely to draft a player early here this year as any other position. Their struggles against the run defined the 2019 season, and salary-cap issues forced them to allow defensive tackle Marcell Dareus – their best interior run defender for the last two and a half seasons – to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18. Head Coach Doug Marrone has talked throughout the offseason about the need to be better against the run. One major offseason move in that direction was signing former Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert as an unrestricted free agent. The guess here is the next biggest move to fortify the middle of the defense will be drafting a defensive tackle early.

SEXTON ANALYSIS

If the Jaguars are all in on Gardner Minshew II at quarterback, then defensive tackle is as good a place as any to spend some of their considerable draft capital. This team was not effective at all against the run once Dareus went down last October, so selecting Brown if he were to slide or grabbing Kinlaw seems as good a place as any to start this draft. Of course, something could change the trajectory of the evening and a player they were not expecting to be there could suddenly appear – a la Josh Allen in 2019. Then defensive tackle might come into play at No. 20 with a player such as Blacklock, Gallimore or Jordan Elliott from Missouri. Look, the Jaguars have no choice but to address the position with a young defensive tackle. The only variable seems to be where, which could be dictated by the draft's first eight selections.

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