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2024 Post-Combine NFL Prospect Overview: Defense
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
March 11, 2024

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Much like it is with players on offense, the emphasis for round one consideration for defensive prospects has tilted more than ever toward players that can directly impact an opponent's passing game.

Interior defensive linemen who are adept at pass rushing are coveted in the modern NFL. Just look at how much money the Kansas City Chiefs spent to retain pending free agent DT Chris Jones.

But in this year's draft, there may only be a couple of defensive tackles going in round one. Jer'Zhan Newton (Illinois) and Byron Murphy II (Texas) appear the most likely as of now.

There's also the case of T'Vondre Sweat, Murphy's teammate at Texas, who is an intriguing prospect at 366 pounds. It would be highly unusual for a DT weighing north of 360 to go in the first round, but Sweat is a unique prospect. Super athletic for his size and extremely disruptive. Winner of the 2023 Outland Trophy.

EDGE rushers will be in demand, as always, with Dallas Turner (Alabama), Jared Verse (Florida State), Laiatu Latu (UCLA), and Darius Robinson (Missouri) leading the field as it looks now.

Others in contention for first-round consideration at the spot include Chop Robinson (Penn State), Chris Braswell (Alabama), and Bralen Trice (Washington).

At inside linebacker, Edgerrin Cooper (Texas A&M) seems the most likely prospect to go on night one. Junior Colson (Michigan) and Payton Wilson (NC State) should get some consideration late in round one.

It's entirely possible that there won't be any safeties taken in round one this year. There's plenty of talent at the position, prospects like Tyler Nubin (Minnesota), Javon Bullard (Georgia), Kamren Kinchens (Miami), and Jaden Hicks (Washington State).

It wouldn't surprise me to see an early-mid second-round run at safety.

By contrast, there should be several cornerbacks drafted on night one. Quinyon Mitchell (Toledo) has been on the rise on draft boards for some time. Nate Wiggins (Clemson), Cooper DeJean (Iowa), Terrion Arnold (Alabama), Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (Missouri), Kamari Lassiter (Georgia), and Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama) are all viable possibilities for the first round.

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