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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jer’Zhan Newton (DL – Illinois)

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jer’Zhan Newton (DL – Illinois)

With being more than halfway through the College Football season, FantasyPros will be taking a look at early NFL Draft scouting reports before the Combine in March. Here’s a look at Jer’Zhan Newton.

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jer’Zhan Newton

Jer’Zhan Newton (DL – Illinois)

6’2” – 295 lbs.

Background:

Appeared in eight games as a freshman, started three, and played a total of 329 snaps en route to a 23-1.5-1.5 line. Took over a starting role the following year and went 50-3.5-3.5, followed by a monster junior campaign of 62-14.0-5.5. Currently enjoying another strong season with an even distribution of snaps between the inside and outside.

Positives:

Has a thick build and natural leverage, has also added bulk throughout his career. Was used all over the line in college; primarily played on the end of three-man lines, but also took snaps as a three-technique, and occasionally as a nose tackle on obvious passing downs. Has a quick first step to threaten gaps out of his stance. Locates the ball well, shows good awareness to stay in position. Gets good extension with his arms and is very active with his hands to keep defenders out of his pads and shed, mostly relying on a swipe move that’s been highly effective. Able to hold the point of attack effectively when he is forced to take on blockers, with impressive lower-body strength; sets a hard edge when he wants. Often draws additional attention from opposing offensive lines. Has the agility to penetrate off of twists/stunts. Can grind down opposing tackles with a straight arm to the upper chest area when rushing off the edge. Impressive body control and balance allows him to dip his shoulder and rip past offensive tackles as an outside rusher. Does a good job of playing within his frame. Gets his hands up to contest passing lanes. Shows a good motor in pursuit out to the sidelines. Heads-up player who competes through the whistle.

Negatives:

Despite playing there in school, his lack of ideal height/length may limit his appeal as a potential five-technique in the pros. Has natural leverage, but doesn’t always play with the most knee-bend and the lowest pad level. Fundamentally a one-gap penetrator who can occasionally be caught out of position when he makes his first move. Would like to see him commit to the bull-rush more when his initial attempts at penetration are unsuccessful; too many snaps where he ends up idling around the line instead of digging in and trying to reset the line with power.

Summary:

A college five-technique who probably projects as more of a three-technique at the next level. One of the most consistent penetrators in this year’s class, with active, effective hand use, excellent balance and body control, and a non-stop motor. Somehow manages to generate pressure even when he’s lined up on the edge. Should be a fascinating chess piece for a one-gap defensive front that prioritizes disruption.

Projection: Round 1

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