The Carolina Panthers lineman shares a similar path with a prospect.
There is no greater surprise for a football team than finding out they drafted an NFL starting talent in the sixth round or later. Dennis Daley was one of those surprises for the Panthers last year.
When a guy steps up like he did at a time that he did you know you have a keeper on your hands. But it’s no surprise that guys like him come through and make impressions like he did.
The Panthers drafted Dennis Daley along with Greg Little after moving on from Matt Khalil and Chris Clark at the conclusion of the 2018 season. Little was held in high regard during the 2019 draft process. As for Daley there were metrics to back up his case as an earlyish draft pick, but that didn’t happen.
There wasn’t a whole lot going for a guy straight out of JUCO, but he worked his way up to a starting position at USC and now he’s a proven NFL starter. It just so happens that draft prospect Javon Kinlaw followed a similar path and has similar goals.
Kinlaw also started out at JUCO and worked his way onto the roster for the Gamecocks. Before JUCO he lived a life of poverty, so making it as a standout at USC with NFL-caliber potential is a tremendous accomplishment for him.
For someone who is one step away from being a “rags to riches” story you can imagine the excitement that Kinlaw feels about drawing interest from NFL teams. His ties to other Gamecocks on the roster will help bolster his chances of being drafted by the Panthers as he builds his résumé during the draft process.
Assuming aggressive football moves from the Panthers in 2020 (which we’ve already seen) a path to the big leagues could be open for the young defensive tackle. With the Panthers already flirting with the idea of drafting Kinlaw by making remarks about his build, specifics about his defensive line ability (which coincidentally happened to be something they lacked in 2019), and even calling him “one of the best defensive linemen in the SEC”, you can put some stock into a draft scenario that involves him staying somewhat local.
Kinlaw’s ability will be on display against other prospects at the Reese’s Senior Bowl on Saturday, just like Daley’s was last year. Expect him to pour his heart out as he has everything to gain with a standout performance in a prime time game.