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NFL Draft PRR 2024: Interior Defensive Linemen

Welcome back to our second position breakdown of the 2024 NFL Draft class! Today, we'll look at one of the most prominent positions on defense that sets the tone for every play; the int. defensive lineman. There are some studs in this group that I'm higher on than consensus, as for most positions, but there are a few guys on this list who aren't being talked about as much as they should be.


Let's rank the top 10 trench warriors for this class!


Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo

 

10. Khristian Boyd - Northern Iowa

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Great hands, uses violent swipes to win in pass rush, swims to win in the run

Struggles in run defense, especially when getting doubled

Understands body leverage well, fills open gaps just from playing half a man

Was used as a nose tackle in college, not many reps as a 3-tech

Good first step, explosive out of his stance

Didn't do well in "play-up" games, struggled against better linemen

Uses hip explosion and extension to reset the LOS


I really like Boyd's play style, the way he uses his hands effectively, and how he can win a good chunk of 1-on-1s in pass rush. He will need to become a better run defender, but I think playing as a 3-tech will naturally help with that. Boyd is one of the biggest sleepers in the class who could be solid as a rotational piece to start.


Pro Comp: Larry Ogunjobi


9. T'Vondre Sweat - Texas

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Absolute space eater, clogs gaps and barely gets moved, even against doubles

Lack of pass rush, just runs into guys and makes one move

Effective bull rush when he uses it, insane strength and power

Doesn't have a good get off, hops out of his stance and fails to get vertical

Decent lateral movement for a big guy, flows well with reach blocks

Won't make an effort to get off blocks, just takes up gaps

Sweat is a tough eval; he was used at Texas in a way that didn't fit his strength, and he doesn't have much versatility, but what he's good at, he's damn good at. He has a nasty bull rush and clogs gaps better than any DT in this draft. The key will be diversifying his pass rush pool and getting better at fighting off blocks. For now, just let him tee off and bull rush whoever he lines up on.


Pro Comp: Jordan Phillips


8. Maason Smith - LSU

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Nice process in pass rush, usually brings a counter move in 1v1 situations

Struggles against doubles in both pass and run, tries to run through them

Quick and violent hands, litted wasted movement when fighting off blocks

Has a tell when stunting, lines up half a yard back from the rest of the front

Good technique against the run, gets great extension and knocks defenders back with hip pop

Needs to get better at attacking half a man, loses reps when he gets square with a blocker

Played all over the interior for LSU, good versatility


A solid pass rusher for his skillset, Smith uses his hands well and has an explosive lower half to create separation. He's had some good moments as a run defender as well, but doesn't do much the majority of the time. He struggles against double teams and fails to attack half a man consistently. Smith will be a designated pass rusher until he finishes plays against the run.


Pro Comp: Javon Kinlaw


7. Gabe Hall - Baylor

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Nice pass rush ability, does a good job flipping his hips and getting skinny

Gets stuck on blocks more than you'd like, struggles after his first move fails

Does well holding his gap in the run game, forces ball-carriers elsewhere

Although he won't get knocked back, he won't reset the LOS often

Outstanding hustle, constantly chasing after plays from all over the field

Not the best against double teams, gets moved off the LOS more often than not

Rarely gets blown off the ball in 1v1 situations, holds his ground


A decent pass rusher, Hall does a good job working his hips throughout the rep and using his hands violently. Gabe needs to get more explosive off the snap and use his size more. He did a good job of that at the Senior Bowl, but the team that drafts him will have to continue to monitor his development before deciding he can be an every-down DT.


Pro Comp: Chris Worley


Photo: Peter Aiken/Getty Images


6. Brandon Dorlus - Oregon

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Plays really well with leverage and length, nasty long arm/bull rush

Not the best against angle blocks, will get washed down from time to time

Solid as a run defender, understands gap fits at a high level

Lack of hustle after the ball is thrown or the play goes the opposite way

Great block destruction technique in run game, uses violence and finesse evenly

Plays with high pads a decent amount, got stood up in pass rush and run fit

Mainly played inside, but also did well off the edge when needed


I like Brandon's play style; he has great violence and knows when to finesse, has a large pass rush pool, and he succeeds inside and outside. He needs to improve his hustle and slightly improve as a run defender to be a real difference maker. With that said, he can still get considerable playing time early on and do well.


Pro Comp: Dre'Mont Jones


5. Leonard Taylor III - Miami

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Explosive lower half for a nose tackle, moves guys with ease

Struggles against angle blocks, gets unbalanced due to inconsistent footwork

Gets vertical quickly, penetrates backfields with his get off

Isn't a great pass rusher, will get caught trying to find the QB rather than winning the rep

Has strong hands to play 2 gap techniques and get off blockers


Plays well in the stunt game, eats up multiple blockers to free up his teammates


A solid NT prospect, Taylor plays really well in between the guards and understands how to play with leverage. Taylor can be a long-time starter in the league as long as he continues to improve his pass rush.


Pro Comp: Derrick Brown


4. Michael Hall Jr - Ohio State

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Explosive first step, gets going quickly and runs his feet through the entire rep

Gives up size in between the guards, weighed in at under 300 pounds

Great hand usage, doesn't stay stuck on blocks and bats down hands violently

Will stand straight up at times, gets stopped in his tracks when he does

Good run defender, played nose despite being undersized and played gritty

Can be faster out of his stance, gets going quick but is late off the ball at times

Solid pass rusher, explosive with his hip mobility and hand fighting


Hall is a really athletic DT who uses his hands well and is explosive. Swim is his best move, but he can swipe hands off him and clog run lanes, he constantly chases after plays, and he can be a stonewall in the run game. He does get overworked at times due to being smaller and would be best as a 3-tech in the league, but Hall is definitely a sleeper in this class.


Pro Comp: Justin Madubuike


Photo: Adam Cairns/USA TODAY


3. Byron Murphy II - Texas

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Powerful and strong, able to easily shed off blockers and clog gaps

Left a lot of plays on tape, missed easy sacks and TFLs a decent amount

Uses advanced techniques to help him hold his ground against double teams

Doesn't play with balance once he wins his rep, needs to have better footing

Fantastic rip move in the run and pass game when he uses it


Great processing in pass rush, has a counter ready if he gets beat at first


Despite leaving some plays on tape, I think Byron's worth taking a first round pick on. He has a good pass rush process, he's great in the run game, and he played all over the defensive front. I think he needs to get better with keeping his balance against blocks and finishing plays; he's a great 3-tech for a team in need of an explosive pass rusher.


Pro Comp: Ed Oliver


2. Kris Jenkins - Michigan

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

One of the best run stoppers in this class, fights off blocks with purpose

Slow off the ball at times, causes him to miss his run fits here and there

Stands up pullers by squeezing flat down the line, clogs gaps with ease

Lack of counter moves, once he gets locked up, he tries to overpower his man

Underrated pass rusher, has a good pool of moves

Tries to run past blocks rather than fighting against pressure

Great on stunts, was sent on them more than most IDLs


I really like Kris's game overall; he uses his hands well in the run game, he can either stop runs in his gap or force ball-carriers elsewhere, he plays with a high motor, and he has a decent pass rush prowess that he can improve. He has a high ceiling if he can tap into his pass rush skillset more.


Pro Comp: Grady Jarrett


1. Jer'Zhan "Johnny" Newton - Illinois

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Incredibly violent and fast hands, awesome at getting off blockers

Doesn't fire out on every snap, sometimes he hops or lunges forward

High motor to chase down plays and working through his pass rush


Great fit in run game, clogs his gap and is able to fight over to the ball-carrier


Understands stunt game at a high level, always replaces lost pass rush lanes


One of the best 3-techs I've ever scouted, Newton has a great mix of power and finesse, he understands run fit at a high level, and rarely gets taken out of his gap. Sometimes he'll drive his man too far back and take himself out of the play, but that's a correctable issue that shows how dominant he can be on a snap-to-snap basis.


Pro Comp: Javon Hargrave


Photo: Kevin Snyder/Illinois Athletics

 

Final Notes:


Some guys that missed the cut were Myles Murphy, Jowon Briggs, Marcus Harris, and Tyler Davis. I expect those four to still get some playing time throughout their careers and contribute in unique ways.


Up next are the tight ends, and it's a position group filled with differing skill types this year. Check back for that in a few days, with safeties and nickels to round out the week!

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