NFL Analysis


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Jer'Zhan Newton NFL Draft 2024: Combine Results, Scouting Report For Washington Commanders DT

Illinois Fighting Illini defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton
Illinois Fighting Illini defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton (4) sacks Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Ben Bryant (2) during the first half at Memorial Stadium. (Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2024 NFL Draft is getting close, making it an excellent time to highlight some of the class' best players with scouting reports. Each report will include strengths, weaknesses and background information. 

Here's our report on Jer'Zhan Newton.

Jer'Zhan Newton'S 2024 NFL COMBINE RESULTS

  • Height: 6'2"
  • Weight: 304 lbs.
  • 40-Time: DNP
  • 10-Yard Split: DNP
  • Vertical: DNP
  • Broad Jump: DNP
  • 3-Cone: DNP
  • Shuttle: DNP



  • Stout frame with outstanding quickness and explosiveness off the ball, consistently beating guards off the snap.
  • Desirable pass rush combination of off-the-ball and lateral quickness with hand strength and short area burst.
  • Outstanding lateral quickness and short area burst as an inside pass rusher, with quick hands to win before contact.
  • Showed outstanding athleticism, balance and body control to re-direct off initial moves and to flatten and close.
  • Showed bull rush strength with a powerful lower half and strong hands to grip and control interior offensive linemen.
  • Effective as a looper in stunts with a desirable combination of short area quickness, flexibility and closing speed.
  • Has quickness off the ball and confined-space strength to control and displace offensive linemen and make plays at the point of attack in the run game.
  • Outstanding lateral quickness down the line of scrimmage in the run game. Quick effective hand usage to defeat blocks.
  • Has point-of-attack strength and locked-out arm extension that can physically control offensive linemen, then come off to make plays in the run game.
  • Dynamic quickness as a pass rusher in 2023, with burst off the ball, active sudden hands and closing speed.
  • Excellent job attacking half a man with pass rush. Burst off the ball and lateral quickness to win the leverage game.
  • Effective as a looper in the inside stunt game, with his short area burst, body flexibility and explosive closing speed.
  • Came off the ball low with leverage, confined space strength and strong hands to displace offensive linemen in the run game.
  • Made plays outside the tackle box with plus athleticism and movement.Tracked down running backs in pursuit.


  • At times too easily washed down the line of scrimmage on running plays. Did not put back against pressure and hold position.
  • There were snaps in which he was handled physically at the point of attack in the run game. He might need more strength.
  • Will his lack of size can cause him issues versus double teams in the run game. Needs to be able to stalemate and/or defeat them.
  • In 2023, too many snaps he came off the ball too high, losing quickness and explosiveness.
  • Game is not built on power, and he does not try to play that way. Not sure if that approach/mentality can succeed in the NFL.
  • Must become a better run defender in the NFL. At this point, he looks for the ball first and plays with high pads.
  • One concern that really stood out — especially in the Kansas game — was the lack of effort in the run game and the lack of intensity.


Newton is one of the better DT prospects in the 2024 NFL draft class. He has an outstanding body of work from the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Newton has a compact and muscular build that belies exceptional quickness and burst off the ball. He uses active, sudden, and violent hands to defeat interior offensive linemen and press both outside and inside gaps. He has light, quick feet, always splaying on his toes.

Newton’s game is built on athletic quickness more than power, and he would project and transition best to the next level as a 1-gap penetrating DT with the traits to be both a strong run defender and inside pass rusher. His size, body type and athletic traits fit the profile of the shorter three-technique DT in a four-man defensive front much in the way Geno Atkins, Grady Jarrett or Ed Oliver did. Newton will come into the NFL with better pass rush tape than those players had in college.

Newton consistently showed good hand usage as a pass rusher with multiple tools and moves, including swipe, arm-over and rip. He was able to generate closing burst off those moves to get to the quarterback.

In the run game, Newton again showed quick, active, effective hand usage and a desirable combination of lower and upper body quickness to disengage and displace offensive linemen. The biggest concern with Newton, and it can be a significant one, is that he has a tendency to play too high and too upright. This can negatively impact his quickness and explosiveness off the ball and into his pass rush.

He may lack the strength to stack and shed blockers, but that can be coached, and it absolutely must be if he is to become a three-down player. Newton also consistently tries to get the edge as a pass rusher rather than strike the offensive guard to control him.

Overall, Newton is a higher-level DT prospect from an athletic standpoint who transitions to the NFL as a three-technique in four-man DL even fronts, both base and sub, and a 4i to five-technique in odd base fronts. My sense is that Newton will begin his NFL career as a sub-front pass rusher. With coaching and experience, he could become a three-down player.


Newton came out of Florida as a three-star recruit and became a starter at Illinois in his redshirt freshman season (2021). In 2022, he was a consensus second-team All-American, and in 2023, he was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American.

In 2022, Newton predominantly lined up at three-technique and 4i in Illinois base five-man front alignments, while in the sub-fronts he lined up at three-technique and zero-technique.

Then, in 2023, Newton again predominantly lined up at three-technique and 4i in Illinois' base, five-man front alignments. In the sub fronts, he lined up at three-technique, one-technique and zero-technique. Newton had dominant snaps in the run game, and as a pass rusher versus Wisconsin, showing quickness, strength and hand usage to control and displace. Newton showed an explosive arm over swim move that consistently beat guards.