Top DTs in the 2024 NFL Draft: Ranking Johnny Newton, T’Vondre Sweat, and Others

Who are the top DTs in the 2024 NFL Draft class? These rankings highlight the top prospects, including Johnny Newton and Byron Murphy II.

The 2024 NFL Draft DT class doesn’t have a talent like Jalen Carter, but as these rankings show, the group may have superior depth to its preceding class. Trimming the list of top talents to just 10 is a difficult task, and there’s a potential blue-chip prospect at the top.

Ranking the Top DTs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Time will tell just how rewarding the returns are with the 2023 NFL Draft DT group, but it’s an inspiring class on the surface.

Carter has been as advertised so far, Calijah Kancey and Kobie Turner have been exceptional disruptors for their respective teams, and many others have shown promise.

The 2023 class was formidable. Carter, Bryan Bresee, Kancey, and Mazi Smith all earned Round 1 capital, and many other quality contributors dotted the Day 2 and Day 3 ranges.

As strong as the 2023 class was, however, the 2024 group could be even more substantial. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer.

10) Braden Fiske, Florida State

The Seminoles’ line was stacked in 2023, with Jared Verse and Patrick Payton manning the edges and Joshua Farmer emerging on the interior. Still, the biggest difference-maker down the stretch might have been Braden Fiske.

Fiske was a dominant force for Western Michigan in 2022, accumulating 59 tackles, six sacks, 12 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and three pass deflections.

He matched that production at the Power Five level in 2023 with a six-sack, nine-TFL season headlined by a dominant ACC title game against Louisville.

Despite being a massive spectacle at 6’5″and 297 pounds, Fiske is a twitched-up attacker who overwhelms blockers with his energy and loaded power output on his rushes. He’s also a menace in pursuit with his truly relentless motor.

9) Maason Smith, LSU

Maason Smith has been on the early-round radar for the 2024 NFL Draft since his true freshman season in 2021, when he put up four sacks and five tackles for loss while playing all across the line at 6’6″and 300 pounds.

However, Smith’s development hit a snag when he tore his ACL on the first drive of the 2022 season and missed the rest of his second-year campaign.

When he returned in 2023, he still had his trademark explosiveness but continued displaying some of his glaring flaws.

There’s an argument to make that Smith perhaps declared too early, but his athletic foundation will always be his primary selling point. If he can keep improving his pad level and counter work, he’s an alignment-versatile force with tantalizing potential.

8) Kris Jenkins, Michigan

Kris Jenkins‘ placement in the top ten is partly based on projection but even more so on traits. High-level traits are worth banking on if the tape is good enough, and Jenkins possesses those more than many DTs in this class.

Jenkins still needs to deliver on those traits more consistently and expand his pass-rushing footprint, but he’s already a high-level run defender with the tools to grow into an every-down force.

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Now at 6’3″ and 305 pounds, Jenkins is tailor-made for the 3-tech disruptor role. He has a potentially overwhelming blend of short-area twitch, leverage, flexibility, power capacity, and ruthless prying strength.

7) McKinnley Jackson, Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s McKinnley Jackson is one of the top nose tackles in the 2024 NFL Draft class.

Last cycle, Mazi Smith’s upside as a potentially game-changing nose earned him Round 1 capital, so we know that NFL teams value the position due to its scarcity. Nose tackles like Jackson, with pass-rushing utility, are rare.

Jackson doesn’t have the same power capacity or raw strength that Smith had, but that’s a high bar to clear. The Aggie assuredly has the density and strength to absorb contact and fend off double-teams at around 6’1″ and 320 pounds.

For his size, he also has surprising bursts, quickness, and energy entering contact with the nuance to win one-on-one as a rusher.

6) Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson

Ruke Orhorhoro had a strong case to declare after the 2022 campaign. But, after accruing 6.5 sacks and 16 TFLs across 2021 and 2022, Orhorhoro instead chose to return to the Clemson Tigers, alongside Tyler Davis, enacting his fifth season of eligibility.

Now, after an eight-TFL, five-sack 2023 season, Orhorhoro carries a top-75 grade on my board.

At around 6’4″ and 303 pounds, Orhorhoro has enticing physical traits. He’s one of the most explosive athletes on this list, and he channels that burst with superb proportional length, culminating in elite raw power capacity.

Orhorhoro came to America from Nigeria and didn’t start playing until his junior year of high school, but already, he’s extremely versatile and can play all across the front.

5) Michael Hall Jr., Ohio State

The Ohio State Buckeyes represent a football factory all across the board, and while the school has yet to be quite as productive on the interior defensive line as it has been at positions like wide receiver and quarterback, there’s still high-quality talent to know at DT.

Had he declared for the 2024 NFL Draft, Tyleik Williams could’ve been a top-three DT prospect. But even without him, the Buckeyes still have early-round representation with Williams’ teammate, Michael Hall Jr.

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Hall notched 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in a breakout 2022 campaign. His 2023 season could have been more productive on the surface, but he was still a consistent disruptor in both phases of the game.

He’s a bit undersized at 6’2″, 290 pounds, and maintaining his balance when working across-face can, at times, be an issue. Still, Hall has the bristling explosiveness, agility, and natural leverage to play between 3-tech and 5-tech. He uses those same traits to capitalize in 1-on-1 situations — with swims and rips — and stunts across the formation.

4) T’Vondre Sweat, Texas

Jackson would be the best nose tackle in the state of Texas and the 2024 NFL Draft if it weren’t for Texas’ T’Vondre Sweat. The 6’3″, 346-pound Sweat won Big 12 Defender of the Year in 2023, putting up 42 tackles, eight TFLs, two sacks, and four pass deflections.

Sweat is a force of absolute absorption in the run game, with the size and strength to swallow up double-teams and combo blocks. But for his size, he has impressive juice as a pass rusher, and his unyielding playmaking motor stands out.

3) Leonard Taylor III, Miami (FL)

A former five-star recruit, Miami’s Leonard Taylor III did nothing but confirm his pedigree with his play in college football. In 2021 and 2022, Taylor logged five sacks and 19 TFLs.

Although his numbers were smaller in 2023, his early-round talent is very much apparent.

Taylor wears 305 pounds about as well as a player can. His athletic 6’3″ frame affords him a great deal of alignment versatility, which he uses to his advantage.

Many of the Miami product’s pressures come from angle confusion, athleticism, and pure effort. He’s still trending up with his operational consistency, but he’s a rapid processor off the snap who can channel power with his hands and violently exploit leverage.

2) Byron Murphy II, Texas

Naturally, with his size, it’s hard to overlook Sweat on Texas’ interior. But on PFN’s board, the higher-ranked Texas DT prospect is Byron Murphy II.

Sweat is a stellar nose tackle prospect, but Murphy has the tools to be a game-wrecker at the next level.

On the way to putting up five sacks and 8.5 TFLs in 2023, Murphy showed off an elite mix of explosiveness, agility and twitch, voracity, hand quickness, and strength at 6’1″, 310 pounds. He’s already an incredibly sturdy run-defender, but his ability to win one-on-one in the blink of an eye will prove alluring to NFL evaluators.

Who Is the Best DT in the 2024 NFL Draft?

If you need a disruptive defensive lineman, the 2024 NFL Draft class has what you need. But as many DTs as there are vying for top-10 spots, one prospect has the film to be a potential blue-chip prospect: Illinois’ Johnny Newton.

1) Johnny Newton, Illinois

Illinois’ defense was a dominant unit in 2022, and that was reflected in the amount of 2023 NFL Draft talent they produced.

Seattle Seahawks CB Devon Witherspoon, Philadelphia Eagles S Sydney Brown, and Washington Commanders S Jartavius Martin all loomed near the top of their positions. Had he declared, Newton would have been in a similar situation. Instead, he’s the Top DT in the 2024 NFL Draft and a potential top-10 prospect.

Heading into 2023, Newton was coming off a career-best campaign that included 61 tackles, 14 TFL, 5.5 sacks, three pass deflections, and two fumble recoveries. In 2023, he added 7.5 sacks and 8.5 TFLs to his career totals.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

At 6’2″, 295 pounds, Newton has the versatility to rush inside or use burst, ankle flexion, and surgical hands to work around the apex. Through it all, he’s strong and stout enough to disrupt in the run game as well, with phenomenal football IQ.

Newton is best alongside a nose tackle who can encumber blocks. Still, he’s unnaturally proficient at prying through congestion and squirming through blocks to make stops. The Illinois product’s hyper-elite flexibility is a one-of-one trait that makes him a perplexingly slippery opponent for even the strongest offensive linemen.

Honorable Mentions

  • DeWayne Carter, Duke
  • Mekhi Wingo, LSU
  • Tyler Davis, Clemson
  • Keith Randolph Jr., Illinois
  • Jordan Jefferson, LSU
  • Justin Eboigbe, Alabama
  • Gabe Hall, Baylor
  • Jordan Jefferson, LSU
  • Jamree Kromah, James Madison

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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