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NFL Draft 2024 Scouting Report: Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois


Height: 6’2”

Weight: 304

Arm Length: 32 ⅜    


40-Yard Dash: N/A

10-Yard Split: N/A

3-Cone: N/A

20-Yard Shuttle: N/A

Vertical: N/A

Broad Jump: N/A

Bench Press: N/A



  • Does a good job shedding linemen in run defense.
  • Strong hands that get a good grip when reaching for ball carriers.
  • Has experience rushing from the 2 technique out to the 4i.
  • Has a high motor when pursuing ball carriers in the backfield and downfield.
  • Lateral agility can be overwhelming for interior linemen.


  • Has difficulty breaking from linemen when rushing the passer.
  • Very inconsistent in exploding off the ball. 
  • Gets high quickly coming out of his stance. 


  • Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2023.
  • Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2023.
  • Consensus First-team All-American in 2023.
  • First-team All-Big Ten in 2022 and 2023.



Going into this year, Jer’Zhan Newton was the consensus DT1 for the 2024 NFL Draft. While many still expect him to be this year’s premier DT prospect, he’s fallen a bit in recent mock drafts. 

Illinois DT Jer’Zhan Newton is a great combination of size, agility, and strength. He plays with a high motor especially when in pursuit of ball carriers in the backfield and when chasing them downfield. Coming off the ball, it’s obvious his lateral agility overwhelms interior offensive linemen with the way he can transfer across different gaps. Lining up most often in the 4i, Newton has experience lining up as far in as the 2 technique. In the run game, Newton is excellent at shedding blockers thanks to the strength and explosiveness of his upper body. However, in the event he is unable to do so, his hand strength is enough to make single-arm tackles as RBs try to make their way through the line of scrimmage. 

Still, Newton tends to get high quickly out of his stance and is also inconsistent in exploding off the ball. When rushing the passer, it feels like he relies too much on his natural athleticism to get the job done rather than also using his strength and technique. Furthermore, while he’s good at shedding blocks against the run, he has difficulty doing so when rushing the passer partially because of the inefficient use of his hands. 

Nevertheless, Jer’Zhan Newton is a great talent who will likely be selected in the first round in April. While he may have slipped down draft boards a bit, it’s hard to expect that he’ll fall out of the first round. 


My Two Cents

Every year, there are prospects who I’m a tad disappointed by after watching their film. Jer’Zhan Newton is a fine player, but I expected more from someone who’s supposed to be an elite DT prospect. While many have him as this year’s potential DT1, I think it’d be better to wait and select another DT later on, depending on who’s still available. 


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