NFL Draft DT rankings: Jer’Zhan Newton headlines top-10 prospect list


Rob Rang

NFL Draft Analyst

For all the focus on quarterbacks, receivers and edge rushers available in the 2024 NFL Draft, it is important to remember football remains a game won and lost in the trenches.

As such, it is a bit surprising that this year’s defensive tackle class has not generated much buzz, as there are several prospects worthy of first-round consideration, with quality depth extending throughout Day Two. And unlike most positional groups, this one boasts a near-consensus top talent in Illinois’ Jer’Zhan Newton.

Teams looking for traditional run-stuffers could also find pro-ready contributors from this class still on the board in the later rounds. Let’s break down the 10 best interior defensive linemen available in April.

2024 NFL Draft prospect rankings | Top 10 QB prospects | Top 10 RB prospects | Top 10 WR prospects | Top 10 TE prospects | Top 10 OT prospects | Top 10 IOL prospects | Top 10 Edge prospects | Joel Klatt’s mock draft

1. Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois — 6-foot-2, 304 pounds, Redshirt Junior

Overview: Former three-time NFL head coach Lovie Smith lured Newton out of the football-rich state of Florida to Illinois back in 2020, convincing the MaxPreps All-American to ignore offers from several prominent programs in the ACC and SEC. It didn’t take long for Newton to live up to the hype, earning starts as a true freshman and leaving Illinois as a three-time All-Big Ten selection and two-time All-American. Newton was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2023, recording 52 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and 7.5 sacks, while leading the country (and setting a school record) with four blocked kicks. His 18 career sacks tied College Football Hall of Famer Moe Gardner for the most sacks by an Illinois defensive tackle in program history.


A bowling ball of butcher knives, slicing his way through would-be blockers with active, powerful hands and a dense frame perfectly suited to…

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Publish date : 2024-03-28 18:24:16

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