Senior Bowl 2020: Javon Kinlaw dominates, hybrid defenders Zack Baun and Josh Uche shine on Day 1
The opening day of practices at the Senior Bowl was highlighted by strong defensive play
Mobile, Ala. | Javon Kinlaw entered the week as the consensus top prospect in Mobile for the 2020 Senior Bowl, and he certainly looked the part on Tuesday.
From jarring bull-rushing wins, penetrations into the backfield thanks to a lightning-quick first step, and a devastating inside counter, the South Carolina star was unblockable.
There was only one instance in one-on-one drills in which he was stymied. That's hard to do as a defensive lineman at the Senior Bowl during a practice session.
Despite only registering 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss combined in his last two years for the Gamecocks, turn on any South Carolina game over that span, zero in on the trenches, and you'll notice Kinlaw instantly.
That same phenomenon occurred on Tuesday. He was impossible to miss.
At 6-foot-5 and 315-pounds with nearly 35-inch arms, Kinlaw is a hybrid defensive lineman. Play him anywhere. Moving out to the edge, two other hybrids, Wisconsin's Zack Baun and Michigan's Josh Uche, looked perfectly comfortable carrying out the multitude of duties likely in front of them at the NFL level.
Uche and Baun both consistently won in blitz-pickup drills for running backs then covered well during their unenviable task of trying to stay in front of a back or tight end with no one else involved in the drill. Uche actually had a pass breakup. In one-on-ones against offensive tackles, Uche and Baun threatened the corner with speedy outside rushes and the Wisconsin stat-sheet filler demonstrated an awesome swim in to beat a blocker to the inside.
In an NFL that's going more positionless each season, the versatile Uche and Baun helped themselves on Tuesday.
At cornerback, Notre Dame's Troy Pride and Nebraska's Lamar Jackson -- vastly different players -- excelled, as they forced incompletions on multiple passes. Pride is twitchy and very fast down the field, a combination that keeps him close to receivers often. Jackson, at 6-2 with over 32-inch arms, uses every inch of his frame to disrupt passes as they're approached their intended target and has above-average coverage speed.
Pittsburgh's Dane Jackson was also a nuisance. He tallied a handful of pass breakups.
On offense, after a slow-ish start in which he failed to create separation, USC's big-bodied wideout Michael Pittman won effortlessly at the intermediate level and down the field en route to getting the football thrown his way.
Baylor's Denzel Mims unsurprisingly made big plays down the field on go routes, something he did often with the Bears over the past three seasons.
On the front, Houston's offensive tackle Josh Jones performed as advertised, routinely engulfing smaller defenders with his long arms and inherent power to control them at the point of attack. UConn's Matt Peart held his own on the edge after getting beat to the outside early, and South Carolina State behemoth Alex Taylor utilized his ridiculous 36-plus inch arms to widen the arc for edge rushers en route to the quarterback in one-on-one drills.
Also, LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry's length and anchoring ability led to him being the most consistent interior blocker of the afternoon.
Without the quarterbacks really ever getting into a rhythm, it was a day for the defensive inside Ladd-Peebles Stadium, and Kinlaw looked every bit like a top-half-of-the-first-round pick.
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