2024 NFL draft prospect rankings: Defensive tackles

Eddie Brown, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Football

Editor's note: The Union-Tribune's Eddie Brown is breaking down prospects, position by position, leading up to the NFL draft (April 25-27). Here are his top 10 defensive tackles, plus "bonus" players he believes will be drafted or signed as a priority free agents:


— 1. Jer'Zhan Newton (Jr., Illinois, 6-foot-2, 304 pounds)

Newton was likely a Day 2 selection had he entered the draft after his sophomore season, when he led the nation's no. 1 scoring defense in tackles for loss (14), quarterback hurries (11), sacks (5.5), and fumble recoveries (two). The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year may be undersized for some teams, but he's been a disruptive force the last two seasons against the run and pass. He was a team captain in 2023, while also leading the country in blocked kicks with four. Newton (foot) underwent surgery in January to repair a partial Jones fracture in his foot and has been limited with his participation in the draft process. Projected: Round 1

— 2. Byron Murphy (Jr., Texas, 6-1, 297)

Murphy is a former four-star recruit who shares a similar skill set and physical traits with Baltimore Ravens All-Pro Justin Madubuike. As a true junior, he's one of the highest-ceiling d-linemen in this draft class, plays with great balance and features an explosive first step. Murphy's elite strength and athleticism earned him a spot on Bruce Feldman's annual college football "Freaks List" in 2023. Projected: Round 1


— 3. Kris Jenkins (Sr., Michigan, 6-3, 299)

His father is former NFL All-Pro defensive tackle Kris Jenkins Sr. His uncle Cullen Jenkins also played defensive line in the NFL. Both enjoyed careers lasting at least a decade. Jenkins' sack totals won't impress anyone, but he routinely faced a double-team, so there's still upside at the next level, especially if he can spice up his pass-rush repertoire. His premium athleticism (No. 6 on Feldman's list), NFL bloodlines and abilities as a run defender give him a very high floor as a pro. Projected: Rounds 2-3

— 4. T'Vondre Sweat (Sr., Texas, 6-4, 366)

The Outland Trophy winner features an immovable base against the run and is capable of collapsing the pocket as a pass rusher. Sweat eats blocks like, well, I'm assuming everything else on his plate. Conditioning will be a concern, as will a recent DWI arrest, but Sweat is nimble on his feet for someone pushing 370 pounds. You simply can't teach his size. Projected: Rounds 2-4


swipe to next page

©2024 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus