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Mel Kiper Jr.’s Mock Draft 2.0 has the Colts Selecting South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

According to longtime ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription), the Indianapolis Colts will select South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw with the 13th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft per his latest Mock Draft 2.0:

At a listed 6’6”, 310 pounds, Kinlaw recorded 35 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, and 2 fumble recoveries in 12 starts for the Gamecocks defense this past season.

In 2019, the senior captain was awarded AP First-Team All-American honors and was a First-Team All-SEC selection by the conference’s coaches.

He was also the recipient of an outstanding Student Athlete Award and several team defensive accolades including MVP of the defense, the most productive player on defense, the most unselfish award on defense, and the most tenacious award on defense.

The former Gamecocks star shined at this year’s Senior Bowl, as he was named one of the South Squad’s Defensive Practice Players of the Week:

Of course, the Colts could use an upgrade at defensive tackle.

Regarding his defense, general manager Chris Ballard has repeatedly stated that “the three-technique (defensive tackle) really drives this thing.”

Right now, the Colts lack a dynamic young defensive tackle in the interior of their defense—who can consistently disrupt plays and penetrate the pocket.

Veteran Denico Autry had another solid season in 2019—although his production dipped, but fellow veteran Margus Hunt’s game really regressed after a breakout 2018 campaign.

Meanwhile, former 2018 second round pick Tyquan Lewis had an entirely forgettable sophomore season—partially because of injuries.

Here’s what some draft experts are saying on Kinlaw:

Sometimes, selecting in the first round can be less about consistently trying to swing for the fences and “hit home runs”—with clear “boom or bust” potential—as much as it can be consistently hitting “doubles and triples”.

In my honest opinion, Kinlaw is a very safe pick because he looks every bit the part of a really good player against elite competition in the SEC—-much like Colts starting Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly was when the franchise selected him with the 18th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Is Kinlaw sexy or flashy compared to some of the top quarterback and wide receiver prospects?

Not necessarily, but one could make the argument that the biggest pitfall of selecting in Round 1 is not coming home “empty handed” and ensuring that you come away with really good players time-after-time—and not whiffing entirely.

While a lot can still change following the NFL Combine next week, Kinlaw strikes me as the defensive prospect for the Colts that has a fairly good chance of still being available, has a really high floor, and is a pretty safe pick—in that he should be a really good starter in the NFL—with the potential to still be great.

There’s also the old cliche that “football is won in the trenches”, and Kinlaw would no doubt help the Colts in that regard.

Given Kinlaw’s natural fit at the Colts three-technique position, their need, and his talent—much like if Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown would shockingly fall, this could be an easy pick for the Colts—especially given the franchise’s affinity for past Senior Bowl stars.