The San Francisco 49ers selected a stout defensive tackle in South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw to officially replace DeForest Buckner.
The San Francisco 49ers made one of their toughest decisions in years when they opted to send DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for the 13th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
But they didn’t wait long to find his replacement.
After trading down one pick, the 49ers used the 14th selection on South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw landing Buckner’s replacement with essentially the very pick they acquired for him.
And in doing so, general manager John Lynch made it clear that he has no intention of getting any thinner on the defensive line.
Kinlaw will have huge shoes to fill, but he has a skill set very reminiscent of the player he’s being brought in to replace.
The South Carolina product was named first-team All-SEC and a first-team All-American for his standout 2019 season that saw him rack up 35 tackles and 6.0 sacks. Kinlaw was also awarded the Joe Morrison Award given to South Carolina’s top defensive player.
His incredible showing last season rocketed him up draft boards with many having him as a top-10 pick ahead of Thursday. A run on offensive tackles pushed him close to the middle of Round 1 where San Francisco ultimately snagged him.
Kinlaw has an elite first-step and penetrating skills to make him a force in the passing game. He’s a little rough around the edges with his run defense and as an overall talent, but the potential is there to become a player very similar to what Buckner developed into.
If anything, playing alongside the likes of Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford on passing downs should help mask any early issues he has. This is the perfect situation for a high-ceiling prospect like Kinlaw and the fit is ideal for both player and team.
The 49ers could have gone with one of the top receivers here, but they instead opted to wait until the end up the first round to take Arizona State wideout Brandon Aiyuk. Some will question that decision, but there’s no doubt they landed a great player here in Kinlaw.
If Javon Kinlaw could come anywhere close to the production that Buckner was putting up before he was traded, this will be a home-run pick and one that will ease the pain of losing their beloved defensive lineman.
The 49ers maintained the strength of their team and did so by landing a high-upside interior rusher who should have no trouble seeing the field on passing downs early in his career.
Can’t complain here, just a solid pick all around.
Final Grade: B+