The 2023 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is preparing for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here is the 2024 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Defensive Linemen.
Michael Hall, Ohio State Buckeyes
Hall was a coveted recruit who joined the Buckeyes in 2021. He played a little bit during his true freshman season, as he registered two total tackles. Hall jumped into the starting lineup in 2022, as he totaled 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
At 6-foot-2 and 285 pounds, Hall is a little undersized for the position. He could add more strength to his frame to be able to hold his spot and shed better. Hall moves well with good lateral agility. He stops the run decently and provides an interior pass rush, which means he could play all three downs at the NFL level.
Jer’Zahn Newton, Illinois Fighting Illini
Newton was a three-star recruit in the class of 2020 for Illinois. He was able to play as a true freshman, racking up 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss on the season. Newton improved his play in 2021, as he totaled 3.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. In 2022, Newton had 14 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
He has solid size at 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds, which allows him to overpower opponents and take on double teams. Newton has violent hands to help him shed. He doesn’t have the best lateral mobility or pass-rush moves and will need to work on that for the 2023 season.
Maason Smith, LSU Tigers
Smith was able to stay in the state of Louisiana as a highly-touted recruit to play for the Tigers. He had a good 2021 season for the Tigers with five tackles for loss and four sacks. After starting in the opener of the 2022 season for LSU, Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury.
At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, Smith has excelled size for a defensive lineman. He has good power to help shed blocks. Smith also has great gap integrity and is solid against the run. He has limited flexibility and can let his pad level get too high, which are things to focus on this season.
Leonard Taylor, Miami Hurricanes
Taylor was a big-time recruit who was able to stay in his home city of Miami to play college football. As a true freshman, he had 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He improved as a sophomore in 2022 with 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.
With a 6-foot-3 and 305-pound frame, Taylor has solid size for the position. He does need to keep his pad level low and add strength to have better power. Taylor has great burst at the snap of the ball and is very athletic for his size. He uses his athleticism to attack gaps really well.
Other Draft Prospects to Watch
Tyler Davis, Clemson Tigers-Davis had a productive freshman season and played well in 2022, but had some tough times producing in between. At 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds he has decent size for the position.
Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson Tigers-After not doing much his first two seasons on campus, Orhorhoro has really upped his game over the last two seasons. In his fifth year, Orhorhoro can really improve his stock.
Tyleik Williams, Ohio State Buckeyes-He has amazing size for the position at 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds. Williams can really help a team stuff the run.
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