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2024 NFL Draft: Defensive Line Big Board

2024 NFL Draft: Defensive Line Big Board

The NFL Draft process is in the final stretch run, with the draft just a few weeks away. Big boards will be released, and then some. Who are the top prospects tasked with getting after the quarterback and stopping the run? How many EDGE prospects will go in the first round? Will there be a top-ten pass rusher? We look at the trench monsters that key the defense up front!

Note: All RAS scores are courtesy of @MathBomb

In case you missed the other positional rankings, they can be found below

Quarterback

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Offensive Line

2024 Defensive Line Rankings

EDGE

“Alabama on top, Again?”

1. Dallas Turner | 6’2 247 | Alabama

FREAK. ATHLETE. Two words that could be remarkably sufficient to describe Turner. Although his technique is still developing as a pass rusher, his athleticism will travel anywhere and everywhere. Because of his physical traits, he’s the top EDGE on the board. After a standout freshman season and a sophomore slump, he got back to the heights of the 2021 campaign and then some. He performed well during the offseason, not allowing for any prospect fatigue to creep into the picture. Positional versatility is another cap in his feather. Power is an underlying theme to his game and one he often uses to get to where he needs to go. His athletic and play style comparison is that of Leonard Floyd. Turner is locked in as a top half of the first round selection, if not higher.

2023 Statistics: 53 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, and one pass defense

Player Comp: Leonard Floyd

RAS: 8.85

Round Projection: Top 15

“The Dynasty Is Back”

2. Jared Verse | 6’3 254 | Florida State

The word athlete comes to mind when you look up Jared Verse in the thesaurus. He is an exceptional athlete who tested very well at the Combine, running an impressive 4.58 40 on top of looking good in the field drills. The production in 2023 dipped ever so slightly from his revelatory 2022 form, but not by much. He led the fearsome Seminoles’ defense back to its rightful place among the national powers. The former Seminole doesn’t quit on a play and just keeps on trucking. Power is a huge plus in his favor as well. The sack production was consistent through his two years in Tallahassee, even with increased attention in 2023, so that’s a plus. Athletically and stylistically, he compares to former Texas great Brian Orakpo. Verse is a surefire, zero doubt, lock it in, top 20 selection.

2023 Statistics: 41 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, three passes defended, and one forced fumble

Player Comp: Brian Orakpo

RAS: 9.60

Round Projection: Top 20

“Good things are a “Bruin”

3. Laiatu Latu | 6’4 259 | UCLA

Latu cemented himself as a first-round prospect with a chance to go within the first 20 selections with the dominant Senior Bowl performance. He followed it up with a standout Combine performance. It could be argued that he’s the most technically savvy EDGE in the class. He wins with both power and speed, along with length. The production is undeniable, as he’s a stat sheet stuffer with a little bit of everything. He has the deepest set of pass rush tricks in the class, without question. The size isn’t an issue, either. Positional versatility is another big asset for him. Athletically and stylistically, he compares similarly to star EDGE Trey Hendrickson.

2023 Statistics: 49 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and two passes defended

Player Comp: Trey Hendrickson

RAS: 9.37

Round Projection: First

“The Faurot Field General”

4. Darius Robinson | 6’5 285 | Missouri

If not for the man above him on this board, Robinson would have a rock-solid argument for being the best EDGE to come out of the Senior Bowl. He’s a bigger defensive end prospect with positional versatility to play tackle. He was dominant in Mobile against any and all comers on the offensive line. Robinson wins with power and length, along with improving lateral fluidity and a quick first step. The physical traits aren’t a concern with him at the next level. His production increased every season so that’s a good sign for teams looking for a swing DE / IDL type that could start in various schemes. His play style and athletic comparison are former Iowa star pass rusher Chauncey Golston. The former Mizzou Tiger has a chance to go in the first round but will likely settle in the second round.

2023 Statistics: 43 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and one forced fumble

Player Comp: Chauncey Golston

RAS: 7.79

Round Projection: First to Second

“No Assembly Required from State College”

5. Chop Robinson | 6’2 254 | Penn State

Chop was the “star prospect” of the show for the Nittany Lions, but he didn’t lead the team in sacks. He’s an ultra-athletic prospect that can run for days, as evidenced by his testing numbers. A laterally quick athlete who uses his underrated power to win against blockers. Relative to hype and talent, he should’ve been more productive in his time at State College, but he wasn’t for various reasons. The uber-athletic prospect has the physical traits and an unrelenting motor to get drafted highly. Scheme versatile as well. He has the frame to play both a stand-up and hand-in-the-dirt role with very little drop-off. PFF graded him as the ninth-best EDGE with an overall score of 90.9. He compares physically and stylistically to former Tennessee EDGE Byron Young, who was a standout for the Rams last season.

2023 Statistics: 15 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and two forced fumbles

Player Comp: Byron Young

RAS: 9.72

Round Projection: Second

“We’re not in Kansas anymore”

6. Austin Booker | 6’4 240 | Kansas

Booker is a talented prospect from the Jayhawks program that has produced several EDGEs in the past. He had a great week in Mobile, displaying a plethora of pass-rush moves and athleticism. He didn’t carry over the good run of form into the Combine, where he didn’t test as well. It was expected since he’s a better gameday athlete than a testing one. The former Jayhawk pass rusher transferred to the program from Minnesota, where he produced for one season before declaring for the draft. He has the traits to be successful in the league with some development time under a franchise known for developing its EDGEs, like the Steelers, 49ers, or Ravens. He profiles similarly to Alex Highsmith athletically and in play style. He’s firmly in the conversation for a Day 2 selection.

2023 Statistics: 56 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles

Player Comp: Alex Highsmith

RAS: 7.04

Round Projection: Third

“The Rolling Tide”

7. Chris Braswell | 6’3 251 | Alabama

The former Tide defender has limited experience due to the talented depth ahead of him but shined as a senior. He carried the great form over to the Senior Bowl, where he stood out in a group of talented pass rushers. Braswell is a great athlete who can cover in space and rush the passer. He’s a laterally quick athlete who needs some technique refinement. A very solid run defender who stacks and sheds blockers effectively. As a senior, the production jumped across the board, so teams will love that omen. He compares to Nathaniel Adibi, both athletically and in play style. PFF ranked him as the 75th-best EDGE with an overall score of 81.0. He can be selected late on Day 2 but will likely go on early Day 3.

2023 Statistics: 42 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception, and one pass defense

Player Comp: Nathaniel Adibi

RAS: 8.72

Round Projection: Third to Fourth

“The Sack Artist in State College”

8. Adisa Isaac | 6’4 247 | Penn State

Yet another Penn State EDGE wants to make an impact at the next level. Isaac had a great week at the Senior Bowl, showing off his expansive pass rush arsenal, athleticism, and run defense ability. He’s a scheme-versatile prospect who was used in various roles for the PSU defense. Another positive is that he increased his production every season, ending his career with 7.5 sacks in 2023. He has great lateral agility for the position, relentless motor, and the frame to keep up with blockers. The former PSU EDGE has had an outstanding off-season process. His physical and play style profile resembles D.J. Wonnum, who has had a productive NFL career. He projects as a late Day 2 to early Day 3 selection.

2023 Statistics: 37 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and one forced fumble,

Player Comp: D.J. Wonnum

RAS: 8.99

Round Projection: Third to Fourth

“A Mighty Duck Defender”

9. Brandon Dorlus | 6’3 283 | Oregon

Dorlus doesn’t stand out statistically but he was the key piece for the Ducks up front in Tosh Lupoi’s defense. Throughout his career, he was used in various roles, including EDGE, tackle, and stand-up linebacker. The former Duck made a few splash plays here and there at the Senior Bowl but wasn’t as impactful as once thought. However, teams will love his versatility, and he led the Ducks’ defense in impact plays. He’s stuck in a tweener role as he isn’t big enough to stick at tackle or nearly athletic as a pass rusher. How does he win? He wins with lateral agility, good speed to power, and above-average hand usage. His athletic versatility resembles DeMarcus Walker, who has had a lengthy career being a rotational piece. The former Duck will likely get drafted early on Day 3.

2023 Statistics: 25 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and nine passes defended

Player Comp: DeMarcus Walker

RAS: 8.66

Round Projection: Fourth to Fifth

“The best Trojan defender is in Alabama”

10. Javon Solomon | 6’0 246 | Troy

Solomon was productive as a three-year starter for the Trojans, racking up 150 tackles, 31.5 sacks, and 42.5 tackles for loss in that time frame. He’s another undersized prospect in this year’s class but has the production and traits to make up for it. A solid athlete with great length and burst off the snap. His pass-rush arsenal is top-notch, and lateral agility is also a plus. Hand strength and usage are other positive traits in his toolbox. The size is a concern, so teams will likely move him to a pass-rushing linebacker specialist role. His production invited him to the Senior Bowl, where he had some good moments during the practices. PFF graded him as the 11th-best EDGE in the country, with an overall score of 90.8. His athletic and stylistic comparison is former Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham. The middle of Day 3 is his likely landing spot.

2023 Statistics: 56 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, and three forced fumbles

Player Comp: Nigel Bradham (as an EDGE)

RAS: 7.29

Round Projection: Fifth

“The (Crimson) Tide Rolls In”

11. Justin Eboigbe  | 6’4 297 | Alabama

The former Alabama defensive lineman played both defensive end and tackle for the powerhouse program throughout his career. He stood out at the Senior Bowl after a productive 2023 campaign that saw him explode for 64 tackles and seven sacks. He is a bigger DE by sheer size at 297, so he might be limited to certain 3-4 systems that employ such men. Teams will love his versatility, as having him act as a swing depth player could save a much-needed roster spot. He has the length, power, and above-average athleticism to stick around for a long time in a rotation. His athletic and play style comparison is Brent Urban, who stuck around the league for a long while. It’s likely that he will be selected towards the end of Day 3.

2023 Statistics: 64 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and one pass defense

Player Comp: Brent Urban

RAS: 5.73

Round Projection: Sixth

“Another One!”

12. Xavier Thomas | 6’2 244 | Clemson

The former five-star signee has had an interesting journey at Clemson. He has missed some time throughout his career due to injury and illness. There are four seasons of decent production out of the six he played for the Tigers. He looks the part with a good frame but is slightly undersized. Relative to hype, Thomas failed to deliver but had a good career. He’s a phenomenal straight-line athlete, as evidenced by his 4.56 40 at Clemson’s Pro Day. His pass rush arsenal is above average with numerous tactics at his disposal. Hand usage is a major plus. He can be an ideal rotation piece if a team can further harness his athleticism and develop lateral agility. He compares athletically and stylistically to former Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams. The middle stages of Day 3 are his ceiling at this point. He participated in the East-West Shrine Game.

2023 Statistics: 25 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, two passes defended, and one forced fumble

Player Comp: Tim Williams

RAS: 8.13

Round Projection: Fifth to Sixth

“The Force from Fort Collins”

13. Mohamed Kamara | 6’1 248 | Colorado State

Kamara is an undersized prospect from Colorado State. He wins with power most of the time and has immense production throughout his career. The production increased every season for three consecutive years, culminating with 13 sacks and 17 tackles for loss as a super senior. He’s not the biggest EDGE rusher, so he will have to win with technique against bigger blockers in the pros. The former CSU pass rusher tested well at the Combine, which resulted in a fairly high RAS. He has a relentless motor and doesn’t quit until after the play. PFF graded him as the 27th-best EDGE with an overall score of 85.7. The size is a limiting factor as to his ceiling as a rotational EDGE prospect. He compares physically and stylistically to Arthur Moats. His stock could be in the middle of Day 3.

Player Comp: Arthur Moats

RAS: 7.94

Round Projection: Sixth

“From Bronco to Bronco?”

14. Marshawn Kneeland | 6’3 267 | Western Michigan

The WMU star was also present in Mobile, where he was frequently in the picture. He’s an impressive athlete who tested very well at the Combine. His production was consistent throughout his career despite missing a few games here and there. He has a very explosive burst and quickness off the edge. What’s remarkable is that his production is similarly split between solo and assisted tackles. He wins with power, but lateral agility is present. He may be selected on Day 2 but will likely settle into the early Day 3 range. His physical and play style profile resembles former Tennessee Titans star pass rusher Derrick Morgan. PFF graded him as the 16th-best EDGE prospect with an overall score of 89.7.

2023 Statistics: 57 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles

Player Comp: Derrick Morgan

RAS: 9.06

Round Projection: Fourth

“The star from the Lone Star State”

15. Jalyx Hunt | 6’3 252 | Houston Christian

Hunt was a small school prospect who participated in the Senior Bowl this past offseason. He firmly put himself on the draft radar while in Mobile and stood out during the process. He’s a solid athlete who can quickly explode off the ball. The Combine is where he showed off his athletic traits the most, with his length and explosive lateral agility. He doesn’t have the technique of a premier pass rusher just yet, but he can get there with proper coaching. The frame is certainly there for him to add more muscle as well. His physical and style profile matches that of former Georgia prospect Lorenzo Carter. He should be a late Day 3 selection.

2023 Statistics: 29 tackles, eight sacks, two passes defended, and one interception

Player Comp: Lorenzo Carter

RAS: 9.20

Round Projection: Sixth to Seventh

IDL

“The Main Man from Champaign”

1. Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton | 6’1 304 | Illinois

Newton is the top IDL on the board, even though his frame isn’t ideal for the position. He was a game-wrecker for the Illini. His productivity was consistently good through three years of starting, culminating in 7.5 sacks as a senior. PFF rated him as the 17th-best tackle with an overall score of 84.9. He is a solid athlete with an explosive first step and arsenal. He knows how to use his athleticism to get in and around the vortex of the trenches. While he isn’t the biggest, he does have good hand usage and length to keep blockers at bay. His physical and stylistic profile resembles another smaller tackle, Javon Hargrave, who’s had a good career. Newton should be the first defensive tackle off the board in the top 20 or so.

2023 Statistics: 52 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble

Player Comp: Javon Hargrave

Round Projection: First

“The Monster on the 40 Acres”

2. T’Vondre Sweat | 6’4 366 | Texas

Sweat was the top-ranked IDL by PFF metrics, with an overall score of 91.7. He was dominant at the Senior Bowl and used his size and athleticism to overwhelm blockers. Brute strength is the name of his game, but he has quick feet in both the run and pass games. Position versatile as he can play tackle or nose tackle in a 3-4 or a 4-3 system. However, his original second-round projection is doubtful as he was arrested for DWI on Sunday afternoon, mere weeks before the draft. Teams will take a dim view of his stock due to the arrest. Physically and stylistically, he resembles another big, versatile tackle, Vita Vea.

2023 Statistics: 45 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four passes defended, and two sacks

Player Comp: Vita Vea

RAS: 4.22

Round Projection: Second to Third

“The Seminole Legacy Continued”

3. Braden Fiske | 6’3 292 | Florida State

Fiske is a primetime athlete who showed it off at the Senior Bowl in spades. He has a lightning-quick first step and is an explosive athlete laterally as well. 2023 wasn’t his finest season statistically, but he significantly impacted the Seminoles’ run to an ACC title. Fiske was a force to be reckoned with, aligned next to Jared Verse. How dominant was his effort in Mobile? The former ‘Nole won practice player of the week honors. He also carried the excellent run of form over to the Combine, leading to an impressive 9.89 RAS. His physical and stylistic comparison is that of underrated defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers. He should be drafted on Day 2 due to his athletic traits and upside.

2023 Statistics: 43 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and six sacks

Player Comp: John Franklin-Myers

RAS: 9.89

Round Projection: Second to Third

“One-Two-Tech in Texas”

4. Byron Murphy II | 6’0 297 | Texas

Murphy was the critical piece of the talented Texas defensive front in 2023. He’s a great athlete and was used in various trench roles, including as an undersized NT in three-man fronts. Teams will love his versatility and relentless drive. He showcases a lot of power in his hands and possesses an arsenal of tricks as a pass rusher. The former Texas star also had a great Senior Bowl showing and an impressive Combine effort. PFF graded him with the second-highest overall score in the IDL class, with a score of 91.1. His physical and stylistic comparison is longtime star tackle Grady Jarrett. He should be a Day 2 selection.

2023 Statistics: 29 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and five sacks

Player Comp: Grady Jarrett

RAS: 9.21

Round Projection: Second

“A (Blue) devil laying in the details”

5. DeWayne Carter | 6’2 303 | Duke

Carter is having a standout offseason. It started at the Senior Bowl, where he had a solid week to boost his stock. The former Blue Devil also tested relatively well at the Combine. He developed well as a three-year contributor under Texas A%M HC Mike Elko. His motor and work ethic are consistently running hot, plus his versatility will only help him in the eyes of teams. He’s a good athlete with lateral quickness, above-average first step, and solid hands. He’s physically strong at the point of attack and holds up well against bigger blockers. Duke’s coaching staff did a great job developing his overall game. His athletic and stylistic profile is similar to Hassan Ridgeway. There’s a chance that sneaks into Day 2 but it’s likely that he settles into the early Day 3 range.

2023 Statistics: 41 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, four passes defended, one fumble recovery

Player Comp: Hassan Ridgeway

RAS: 7.65

Round Projection: Third to Fourth

“A Tiger in the Shade (of Orange)”

6. Ruke Orhorohoro | 6’4 294 | Clemson

Orhorohoro was the unheralded star of the Tigers’ front line. He formed a dynamic duo with another standout, Tyler Davis, who should also be drafted highly. He’s had three consecutive seasons of solid and consistent production for the Tigers. He was a tremendous athlete on tape and tested very well at the Combine. He possesses a solid, quick first step, and the motor is always running hot, no matter the situation. Positional versatility and power are two of his strongest traits. Clemson used him in various roles along the line, and he proved adept at all of them. He’s above average in run defense as well. His athletic and stylistic profile resembles Sheldon Richardson. PFF graded him as the 120th-best tackle with an overall score of 75.8, and he should be an early Day 3 selection.

2023 Statistics: 25 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks, one pass defense

Player Comp: Sheldon Richardson

RAS: 9.92

Round Projection: Third to Fourth

“A Bayou Bengal Prowling in the Trench”

7. Mekhi Wingo | 6’0 284 | LSU

Wingo transferred to LSU before the 2022 season from Missouri, where he played significant reps as a freshman. His 2023 season saw a slip in production as he battled injury and inconsistency throughout but flashed late. He’s an undersized tackle prospect but makes up for it with relentless effort and above-average athleticism. His calling card is his explosive first step, lateral quickness, and low-maintenance frame. The prospect has strong hands but can sometimes be overwhelmed by bigger blockers due to a lack of ideal size. He profiles similarly to former Louisville standout Sheldon Rankins, who has had a successful career in the pros. The former LSU lineman could go in the middle of Day 3 as a rotational asset.

2023 Statistics: 25 total tackles, five tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks

Player Comp: Sheldon Rankins

RAS: 8.77

Round Projection: Fifth to Sixth

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