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NY Jets agree to sign former 49ers DT Javon Kinlaw

Javon Kinlaw
Javon Kinlaw

New York Jets add to a thin defensive tackle depth chart

The defensive tackle position was an underrated need for the New York Jets going into free agency, as Quinnen Williams was the only viable DT on the roster. Now, the Jets have a little more security at the position.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Robert Saleh is reuniting with a former first-round pick who was taken by the 49ers during Saleh’s time as San Francisco’s defensive coordinator: Javon Kinlaw. The 26-year-old is coming to New York on a one-year deal.

Injuries plagued Kinlaw throughout his first three seasons, limiting him to 24 games. Kinlaw struggled to live up to his first-round billing in those games as he recorded just 1.5 sacks.

In 2023, Kinlaw finally stayed healthy, playing 17 games. While he still didn’t quite live up to his draft stock, he carved out a nice role in the 49ers’ defense and provided good production as a rotational defensive tackle. Playing 44% of the team’s defensive snaps, Kinlaw finished with 3.5 sacks, six quarterback hits, 25 total tackles, and three passes defended. He was an efficient interior pass rusher, ranking 42nd out of 114 qualified IDL in pass-rush win rate at 10.3%, per Pro Football Focus.

Run defense remains a weakness for Kinlaw. He only had a 31.3 run defense grade at PFF in 2023, while he ranked 57th out of 103 qualified IDL in run-stop rate (6.6%). The 49ers allowed 4.5 YPC when he was on the field compared to 3.9 when he was off.

Kinlaw will not fill the Jets’ Al Woods role, but he will fit nicely in the Jets’ defensive tackle rotation as a situational pass rushing threat. His athleticism, explosiveness, and aggressive mentality will fit perfectly in the Jets’ attacking 4-3 scheme. After all, he was drafted into the same scheme in San Francisco under Saleh. Kinlaw figures to play a key role for the Jets’ defense this year.

With two spots filled in their DT rotation, the Jets still have at least two more to go. Attention now turns to 2023 members Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas, who remain free agents.

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