Derrick Brown, Javon Kinlaw are top defensive tackles in the 2020 NFL draft

Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw, the top rated defensive tackles in the NFL draft, which is set for April 23-25, both could be selected within the first 10 picks.

“I don’t have as high of a grade on Kinlaw as I do Derrick Brown from Auburn,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “He’s solidly the No. 2 tackle. He’s not that far off in terms of a grade for me. I have Brown at six on the big board and Kinlaw at 14.”

Brown, who played at Lanier High, was the SEC defensive player of the year in 2019.

» MORE: Top 10 defensive tackles in draft

“He went back for his final year at Auburn,” Kiper said. “He could have come out last year. He’s got another year of experience. Did a great job at Auburn. With Derrick Brown, you know what you are getting.”

He had 55 tackles, 12.5 tackles for losses and four sacks for the Tigers last season.

Brown was versatile at Auburn and played several positions along the defensive line.

“It was very beneficial,” Brown said. “Being coached in the system, we didn’t really have (set) positions. We played all the way from the zero to the five (technique), and Coach mentioned we had to be versatile at every position.”

Brown interviewed with all 32 teams and believes his versatility will help him get selected early.

“Yeah, being versatile. A lot of teams say they don’t even scout for defensive tackles or nose guards (any) more,” Brown said. “They scout for (defensive) linemen. They want to find guys that can play the positions across the board.”

Brown was asked what’s his best asset.

“I think just being able to knock back the line of scrimmage and create pressure that way, but also be able to play the run and create that knock-back,” Brown said.

Kinlaw was selected to the All-SEC team and was a first-team All-American last season for South Carolina.

“He moves really well for a guy that is obviously going to be an interior presence,” Kiper said. “He’s got tremendous athleticism. I think that’s what people want. ... Kinlaw is a guy that produced against the highest level of competition. His tape is really good.”

In South Carolina's 20-17 upset of Georgia on Oct. 12, Kinlaw was a disruptive force. He had four tackles, a tackle for a loss and a sack.

“I think he’ll benefit, as he keeps improving, from NFL coaching,” Kiper said. “I think nine is not too high to Jacksonville. His ceiling is pretty good. In terms of how far he could go down, maybe as low as 17 to the Cowboys, but I don’t see him getting past the Cowboys. I think the range for Kinlaw would be 9 to 17.”

Kinlaw believes he can develop into a stronger pass-rusher.

“For sure, because I haven’t even scratched the surface to my pass-rush,” Kinlaw said. “A lot of the times, I just be out there bull-rushing, just walking guys back. So, once I get that right coaching, the sky is the limit.’’

Kinlaw didn’t work out at the combine.

“I (had) been rehabbing my knee tendinitis, so I didn’t really have a lot of time to prepare for the drills,” Kinlaw said.

The Falcons, who hold the 16th pick, have heavily scouted Kinlaw.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said there is depth in the draft at defensive tackle in this draft.

“I would say defensive tackle and offensive tackle were two spots that stood out to me,” Quinn said. “Those were a few of the positions that seemed like as you kept going, ‘I like him, too,’ and you keep going down the stack, and there are a lot of guys that you think would have a role on the team.”

After Brown and Kinlaw, TCU’s Ross Blacklock, Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore and Auburn’s Marlon Davidson are in the next group of defensive tackles.

“I think Gallimore from Oklahoma,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “I talked to him at the Senior Bowl. He’s a fascinating story, growing up in Canada. The kid was dunking (a basketball) at the age of 13.”

Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike also is highly touted.

“He’s played more kind of a power knock-back style there at A&M, but I think he's more athletic,” Jeremiah said. “He’s got a chance.”

Ohio State’s Davon Hamilton didn’t start until his senior season.

“He didn’t get as many opportunities there because they were so darned talented on the front to really rush the passer,” Jeremiah said. “Usually he was congratulating Chase Young after he just got off the quarterback because he got there so fast. But this kid’s got some upfield ability.

“He showed that at the Senior Bowl. I think he’ll be a better pro player than a college player. I think he’s probably more in the third-round range, but he’s somebody that can get on an edge and get upfield.”

AJC’s 2020 POSITION BY POSITION DRAFT SERIES

Quarterbacks: Joe Burrow leads classTop 10
Running backs: Cam Akers' life lessonTop 10
Tight ends:  Harrison Bryant top prospect Top 10 
Guards/Centers:  Solomon Kindley a late-rounderTop 10 
Offensive tackles:  Austin Jackson's life lesson  | Top 10 
Wide receivers: Jeudy or Lamb  | Top 10
Defensive tackle: Brown, Kinlaw stand out | Top 10
Part 8: Defensive end
Part 9: Linebackers
Part 10: Safeties
Part 11: Special Teams
Part 12: Cornerbacks

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