Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks opens up his notebook to provide some insight into which players shined this past week.
Javon Kinlaw put on a show
If NFL scouts conducted a draft with only the 2020 Senior Bowl participants, Kinlaw would be the consensus No. 1 pick. The 6-5, 315-pound defensive lineman has been a one-man wrecking crew in drills, displaying an exceptional combination of strength, power and athleticism while pummeling blockers in one-on-one and team exercises. Kinlaw not only flashes his brute strength with jiujitsu-like hand skills, but he is explosive off the ball and his first-step quickness is problematic when he’s given the freedom to play as a one-gap penetrator at the line of scrimmage.
Although Kinlaw lined up primarily over the center or guard at South Carolina, he displayed enough athleticism to play as a 5-technique aligned opposite an offensive tackle in a 3-4 front. If I’m a team in need of an interior defender with a game that’s similar to Pro Bowler Chris Jones, the conversation begins and ends with Kinlaw.
Although the former Gamecock will not be participating in the game on Saturday — he’s sitting out with tendinitis in one of his knees, likely for precautionary reasons — Kinlaw cemented himself as a first-round pick in Mobile.
This week’s senior bowl practices are over, so it’s time to gather all your notes. The mothership takes a look at a couple of standouts who play positions of need for the Cowboys. First they took a look at defensive tackles.
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.
And there were also some safeties that caught their eye...
Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne – The man who’s stealing all the headlines. How could he not be after dominating Senior Bowl practices as a Division II prospect? I’ve talked to multiple people, whose opinions I trust, who view him as a top 50 prospect despite his background at a tiny program. The question for me is: would the Cowboys, who value big-time production, consider a player from such a small school?
South Carolina’s defensive tackle continues to generate buzz and would be a great fit considering the Cowboys need help in the inside.
1. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Outside of safety, no position was more mismanaged by the previous staff than a defensive tackle. That should change now with some fresh thinking and the Cowboys would be wise to look to completely rebuild the interior — meaning pretend players such as Trysten Hill aren’t even there and just count that as a bonus should he develop the way Rod Marinelli thought he would. With that being said, there are some pretty intriguing names to watch, including one Senior Bowl standout — Javon Kinlaw.
The South Carolina product was head and shoulders above the other defensive tackles and could be a game-changer for the Cowboys. He’s not only incredibly talented, but he’s as motivated as they come. Kinlaw described his upbringing at the Senior Bowl, describing how he was homeless early on in his life.
Once he makes it into the NFL, money won’t be a concern. Kinlaw is going to strike it rich and is a sure-fire first-round pick. And that’s the one question for Dallas. Will this kid be worth the No. 17 pick — assuming he is there even.
NFL Draft prospect Javon Kinlaw explains growing up homeless to possible high pick: ‘It was tough, man’ - Ryan Gaydos,Fox News
Kinlaw has quite the story, and the Cowboys Jerry Jones always loves a good story.
“Just growing up in northeast Washington, D.C., pretty much homeless, living in basements. We went without electricity, no water, things like that,” Kinlaw said. “We had to use the neighbor’s hose to fill up totes of water. We would take them back in the house. We had gas, a gas stove. We would light the stove with a little match or something, get a tall pot, boil the water, mix it with some cold water, put it in a bucket, take it upstairs, take a shower like that,” he shared. “At a young age, we just thought that was normal,” he continued.
“That’s how we was living, we didn’t know how everybody else was living, but we knew that’s how we was living and we was cool with that, especially me. But now that I look back at it, it was tough, man. It made me a man at a young age.”
Both Kinlaw and small-school prospect Kyle Dugger had quite the impressive week.
KYLE DUGGER, LENOIR-RHYNE
Hickory, North Carolina is a small town that many people have never heard of, but there’s a big-time talent that many are now familiar with. Outside of top-ranked prospects like Javon Kinlaw and Justin Herbert, there hasn’t been a player more impressive in Mobile than Dugger.
It wasn’t until high school that he began to develop a likeness for football. He served in a backup role at Whitewater High School and finally grew into his goofy frame his senior year. Dugger finished his final year with 80 tackles, five pass breakups and three interceptions. However, he still had just one productive season as a starter and only one scholarship offer from Lenoir-Rhyne.
DFW has three players to keep an eye on, including a much needed cornerback.
CB, Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh
Tell me if you’ve heard this before, “we want long corners who can be physical at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the receivers timing!” That was our gateway to recreating the Legion of Boom under Kris Richard’s guidance… Until it wasn’t……
So in need of a cornerback or two, let’s go and get a corner with good ball skills in man coverage! We good? Jackson stands at 5’11”, 180 pounds with 30 7/8″ arms and 8 3/4″ hands. Nothing about Jackson says big, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing physical and feisty against some BIG receivers at the Senior Bowl.
More importantly, Jackson is doing this lined up on the outside. On 1-on-1s, he matched his opponent step for step and cut off throwing lanes by anticipating their breaks on time. All this was good enough to earn him a Defensive Practice Player award of the week, voted by his teammates.
2020 @seniorbowl South Squad Defensive Practice Players of the Week (voted on by position group they competed against in practice)— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) January 24, 2020
DL: Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
LB: Akeem Davis-Gaither, App. State
DB: Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh
ST: Blake Ferguson, LSU#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/0ZSiBiO9dM
Pro Bowl Confidential: Players on marijuana testing, coaches they’d like to play for, worst city to travel to, more - Greg Auman, The Athletic
With the Pro Bowlers gathered around in Orlando, it was a great opportunity to take a survey and ask players a bunch of different questions, from worst officiated calls in the league to the most under-rated players in which a name of one Cowboys player was mentioned...
Byron Jones, CB, Cowboys: Now in his fifth year as a starter in Dallas, just one Pro Bowl (2018). Two career interceptions, and his tackle totals have dropped in each of the last three seasons.
While new head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t choose to hang on to former strengths and conditioning coach Mike Woicik, the team decided to keep a guy who was on Wiocik’s staff instead.
Paul and Woicik had been linked off and on going all the way back to the late ’80s, when Paul was a safety at Syracuse and Woicik was the football program’s strength and conditioning coach. During Paul’s five-season NFL career, mostly with the Bears, Woicik was on staff with the Cowboys, where he won three championships as part of the 1990s Dallas dynasty.
The two joined the New England Patriots staff together in 2000. Paul and Woicik were on the Super Bowl-winning staffs there in 2001, 2003, and 2004. Woicik stayed in Foxboro another six seasons before returning to Dallas in 2011. Paul remained with the Patriots until after the 2004 season and then joined the Jets staff for two years. In 2007, he began a long stint as an assistant with the Giants, where he won his fourth and fifth Super Bowl rings. Paul joined Woicik once again in Dallas prior to the 2018 season.
From ‘Seeing ghosts’ to ‘Mozart’s paintings’: These are the best quotes of the NFL season - Staff, ESPN
With the NFL season just a week away from ending, the ESPN staff recap some of the best quotes of the season, and you better believe Jerry Jones’ mouth finds his way in there.
“Zeke who?” — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, during running back Ezekiel Elliott’s contract holdout, after backup running back Tony Pollard scored a touchdown during the preseason. Jones would then give Elliott a six-year, $90 million contract extension, making Elliott the league’s highest-paid running back.