Jer’Zhan Newton Draft Profile | Illinois, DT Scouting Report

    Is Illinois DT Jer'Zhan Newton the top prospect at his position in the 2024 NFL Draft? He's a unique, unorthodox mold, but his scouting report shows promise.

    Who is the top defensive tackle prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft? If you’ve watched the tape, odds are Illinois DT Jer’Zhan Newton is in heavy consideration on your board. Newton was one of college football’s most productive defenders in 2022, and he returns as a potential Round 1 prospect in the 2024 cycle.

    Jer’Zhan Newton Draft Profile and Measurements

    • Height: 6’2″
    • Weight: 295 pounds
    • Position: Defensive Tackle
    • School: Illinois
    • Current Year: Redshirt Junior

    If there’s one thing Newton knows how to do, it’s produce.

    As a high school senior at Clearwater Central Catholic, Newton had 16 sacks, 29.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. In his first two seasons at Illinois, he combined for 73 tackles and five sacks. And in a standout 2022 campaign that earned him first-team All-American honors, Newton logged 62 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 14 TFLs, and three pass breakups.

    Production is one piece of the puzzle for 2024 NFL Draft prospects, but it isn’t the only component. Prospects also need to show that their abilities match on tape. Newton’s production says he is a potential first-rounder. But is the film in lockstep with the numbers? Here, we’ll take a closer look.

    Jer’Zhan Newton Scouting Report


    • Has excellent natural leverage and all-encompassing alignment versatility.
    • Explosive, high-energy athlete who can invade gaps with his spry mobility and zeal.
    • Firework out of his stance who can instantly correct his leverage and alignment.
    • Hyper-elite torso flexibility allows him to peel and seep his way through anchors.
    • Has the bend to rush from 5 and 7-tech, using high-end ankle flexion and hand usage.
    • Slippery rusher who processes blocking angles and combo blocks startlingly quickly.
    • Constant leverage mismatch, capitalizing with superb feel and weight distribution.
    • Comes off the line with red-hot energy and doesn’t relent into contact, fighting through.
    • Has enough power to generate initial balance-eroding shock on push-pull moves.
    • Flashes impressive core and grip strength when anchoring and shedding moving blocks.
    • Surgical one-gapper who wins with well-executed clubs, chops, and rips.
    • Can pry past arms with precise cross-chop-rip combos, using bend to veer through gaps.
    • Hands are always active and violent, even through second and third attempts.
    • Can throw blockers aside after baiting them into overextending, then flow to the ball.
    • Shows off exceptional athleticism and pursuit speed for his size in space.


    • Frame is relatively lean for an interior defender, and length is noticeably below average.
    • With lacking mass, can be more easily gathered by double-teams and combo blocks.
    • Below-average length puts a cap on maximum power capacity and torque on extensions.
    • Hands don’t have elite knockback force at contact and can’t always create movement.
    • Doesn’t quite have the elite play strength or mass to control blocks working across the face.
    • Lack of elite length sometimes impedes his ability to finish as a tackler in gap pursuit.
    • Occasionally jumps the snap prematurely, drawing penalties.

    Current Draft Projection and Summary

    Heading into the 2023 college football season, Newton was my top-graded DT prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, and he remains there in the present day. Not only that, but he’s also a top-20 overall prospect, worthy of consideration in the middle of Round 1 — or perhaps even higher for the right schematic fit.

    At 6’2″, 295 pounds, with below-average length, Newton won’t fit the size threshold for certain roles. He can shade over 0-tech and 1-tech when he has more space to work from NASCAR packages, but overall, he’s best at 3-tech and outside. Naturally, Newton’s lack of mass can be a problem against double-teams, and he can be displaced by combo blocks.

    Still, Newton is a surgical disruptor in both run defense and pass defense, whose hyper-elite flexibility serves as a defining and dominant trait. With his combined burst, flexibility, hand strength, and angle awareness, he’s an unnaturally permeable force against run blocks.

    As a pass rusher, he has the combined athleticism, hand precision, violence, bend, and motor to menace the QB from a multitude of alignments.

    MORE: FREE Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

    As mentioned above, Newton’s size does bring some schematic limitations. He’s probably best utilized as a 3-tech or 4i alongside a nose tackle who’s able to encumber blockers, isolating Newton with 1-on-1 opportunities. But Newton’s ability to shade outside to 5-tech and 7-tech gives him added utility in hybrid fronts.

    To summate, Newton is a versatile two-phase disruptor whose penchant for production should only persist in the NFL. In the right scheme, he has Pro Bowl and All-Pro upside.

    NFL Draft Scouting Reports

    Using the table below, browse NFL Draft scouting profiles for hundreds of draft prospects so you can get a head start on the 2024 NFL Draft.

    Don’t forget to check out our Mock Draft Simulator, where you can take control of your favorite NFL team and build its roster for the future!

    You can sort the table below by player, team, or position. For mobile users, this table is best viewed in landscape mode.

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