2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jer’Zhan Newton

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report - Illinois DT Jer'Zhan Newton

The 2024 NFL Draft is just two days away. We take a look at Illinois defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton, who brings power, explosion, and athleticism to the trenches.

Newton was a three-star recruit by ESPN and a three-star recruit by 247 Sports coming out of high school. He eventually committed to Illinois.

During his four-year career, Newton amassed 184 tackles (79 solo), 18 sacks, five pass deflections, and two forced fumbles, showcasing his consistency. In 2023, he racked up 52 tackles (26 solo), 7.5 sacks, two pass deflections, and one forced fumble while being named Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, All-American, and team captain.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft scouting reports.

Jer’Zhan Newton, Defensive Lineman, Illinois

Name: Jer’Zhan Newton
Jersey: No. 4
Position: Defensive Lineman
School: Illinois
Class: Senior
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 304 lbs.


40-Yard Dash: N/A
10-Yard Split: N/A

Three Cone: N/A
Hand Size: 9 1/2″
Arm: 32 3/8″

Awards: Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year (2023), All-American (2022, 2023), Team Captain (2023), All-Big 10 First Team (2022)

Games Watched: Iowa (2023), Northwestern (2023), Penn State (2023), Wisconsin (2023)
Major Injury History: None


Jer’Zhan Newton’s Strengths

Newton possesses very good athletic abilities, characterized by explosive power, rapid foot quickness, swift acceleration, good contact balance, and change of direction. As a bull rusher against guards or centers, he excels by leveraging his robust lower body strength, precise hand placement, and good pad level to quickly engage, extend, and drive back the guard. Additionally, his speed-to-power conversion, stemming from the same capabilities, enables him to gain leverage and exert pressure into the pocket, demonstrating good play strength. Effective against base and reach blocks in the running game due to very good explosion, foot quickness, hand timing, hand strength, and placement, which allow for reading, ripping, or swimming, disrupting plays in the backfield. Elite sideline-to-sideline motor, showcasing his ability to chase down ball carriers from behind.


Jer’Zhan Newton’s Weaknesses

Newton lacks in height and arm length, which may pose challenges when he faces longer-limbed offensive linemen. Adequate versus double-teams and combo blocks, resulting from lack of recognition and positioning, which leads to being displaced in his gap. He needs to refine his tackling technique after numerous missed tackles in 2023.


Newton stands out as a dynamic interior defender, boasting both alignment versatility and adaptability. He excels at engaging blockers and beating them with quick hand usage and foot quickness, being effective against both the run and pass. His explosive power, athleticism, and strength enable him to dominate in the 1-3 technique positions and, at times, even when aligned on the edge. Although his size and length may not be remarkable compared to his peers, he consistently demonstrates the ability to extend and establish edges while winning one-on-one in the interior.

Pro Comparison: Aaron Donald
Draft Projection: First Round
Grade: First Round

Main Image Credit:

Embed from Getty Images


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