Kinlaw and other rising prospects at the 2020 Senior Bowl

    Every year, NFL draft prospects use the stage of the Senior Bowl to elevate their draft stock. Javon Kinlaw, Darnay Holmes, and Denzel Mims are three players whose draft stock is rising due to strong performances in Mobile.

    Earlier this week, the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl kicked off in Mobile, Alabama. It has become the favorite all-star game for most draft fans, as it gives them a chance to analyze how the upper echelon draft prospects perform against a group of their peers. The game itself will take place this Saturday, January 25th at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

    For NFL draft prospects, the Senior Bowl gives them a tremendous platform to improve their draft stock, as scouts, coaches, and front office personnel from all NFL franchises will be in attendance. In 2019, Duke Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones took advantage of the Senior Bowl. His performance led to him being named the MVP of the game, and ultimately being selected as the 6th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

    The headliners of this year’s game are Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, and South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. Both Herbert and Love have looked exceptional thus far, as they have displayed impressive arm strength, accuracy, and have had strong interviews, which will only help their cause. Both players will have the opportunity to catapult themselves into being considered top-10 draft selections in April’s draft with a strong performance. Kinlaw has also been sensational. He has displayed the skill to completely overwhelm any offensive linemen that lines up across from him.

    While these three players are the headliners, there have been other prospects that have had their draft stock rise at the Senior Bowl, including Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson, LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU tight end Stephen Sullivan, Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill, and Auburn defensive end Marlon Davidson. With that said, there have been three prospects whose stock has skyrocketed because of their performance in Mobile.

    Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor (Height: 6’3″, Weight: 215 pounds)

    There is not a deeper group in the NFL Draft than wide receiver. This class is absolutely loaded with the likes of Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Laviska Shenault, Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk, and Henry Ruggs III. However, Baylor’s Denzel Mims is making a statement at Senior Bowl practices, which will have him climbing draft boards. He has impressive size, runs crisp routes, and excels at the contested catch. When it comes to “high pointing” the football, Mims is among the best from the wide receiver class.

    One area of improvement you notice from watching him this week versus watching his film is in creating separation. Pro Football Network draft guru Tony Pauline on Mims, “Incredible hand use to separate and catching everything in sight.”

    I mentioned Mims’ ability to “high point” the football, which is evident in the clip below. Mims is a good athlete that plays a physical brand of football. He is an alpha, who isn’t afraid to go after the football:

    Here is a clip that highlights Mims’ ability to use his body to shield the defender and protect his catch point. He uses his big frame well, allowing himself to be open even when he is covered:

    Mims entered this year’s Senior Bowl week as a fringe third-round prospect. However, his strong showing in Mobile has elevated him into the round-two discussion. For teams looking for a big, physical, and athletic receiver to bolster their receiving corps, Mims fits the bill. 

    Darnay Holmes, Cornerback, UCLA (Height: 5’10”, Weight: 198 pounds)

    There was some surprise when UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes announced his intentions to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. However, he has been one of the best defensive backs at the Senior Bowl. Holmes, a three-year starter at UCLA, tallied eight interceptions during his tenure as a Bruin, highlighting his plus ball skills.

    He is competitive, aggressive, and confident, as you will see him chirping and challenging his opposition on a consistent basis. He has exceptional hip fluidity, elite lateral movement skills, and great ball tracking instincts. At times, Holmes can get a bit “grabby”, which he needs to work on to avoid being flagged a great deal at the next level. With that said, his talent and swagger scream elite nickel-cornerback.

    Take a look at the video below and watch this amazing rep from Holmes against Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson. It highlights his fluidity, ability to change direction, and track the football:

    Here is a clip that displays the confidence in which Holmes plays with. Also, it shows that Holmes has the ability to play a physical brand of football when necessary:

    When the NFL Draft process is all said and done, Holmes should cement himself as a top-75 draft selection, who has the ability to contribute right away.

    Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina (Height: 6’6″, Weight: 315 pounds)

    The path to becoming a first-round prospect for the NFL Draft wasn’t an easy one for South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. Kinlaw grew up poor, even homeless at times, but he didn’t let that derail his goal to one day play in the NFL. As Pro Football Network writer Cole Thompson points out in his article, Kinlaw has been utterly dominant at Senior Bowl practices this week. 

    He came into the week as one of the headliners, yet he has used this stage to improve his draft stock even more. As it stands today, Kinlaw is in the conversation to be a top-10 selection in April’s draft. He has a rare blend of power and explosiveness, which allows him to consistently disrupt the line of scrimmage.

    Kinlaw is an absolute technician, who exemplifies extraordinary hand usage. The ability to eat double teams, his brilliance as a power pass-rusher, and his lethal first step are some of the main reasons that make Kinlaw an absolute force to be reckoned with.

    The clip below will highlight Kinlaw’s quickness and violent hands, allowing him to easily discard Clemson offensive guard John Simpson at Senior Bowl practice. The scary part about this clip is that John Simpson is a potential top-75 pick in this year’s draft, and yet is no match for Kinlaw:

    Here is another clip of Kinlaw abusing Simpson. This time, it’s pure power he utilizes to overwhelm his opponent:

    With this standout performance, Kinlaw might have elevated himself above Auburn’s Derrick Brown for the honor of being the top interior defensive linemen in the NFL Draft. His game reminds me of San Francisco 49ers’ All-Pro defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, as he is a scheme versatile phenom. Kinlaw’s stock is blazing, and he is a lock to be a top-15 selection in April’s upcoming draft.

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