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Chiefs 2024 NFL Draft prospect per day: Illinois DT Jer’Zhan Newton

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs could use some more depth on the interior line in the 2024 NFL Draft.

As part of FOX4’s 2024 NFL Draft prospect per day project, we take a look at Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton and how he can fit in KC if the Chiefs select him.

Former Piper, K-State lineman Cooper Beebe ready to hear named called in NFL Draft

Info

  • Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida, also goes by Johnny

  • Played running back/basketball in high school at Clearwater Central Catholic

  • 2021 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten Conference: 51 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks

  • 2022 Second-team Associated Press All-American/First-team All-Big Ten Conference: 62 tackles, 14 TFL (led team), 5.5 sacks, 3 PBUs

  • 2023 First-team Associated Press All-American/Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year/First-team All-Big Ten/Finalist for the Nagurski Trophy (nation’s top defender): 52 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks (led team), 2 PBUs, FF, 4 blocked kicks (school record)

  • 188 tackles, 28.5 TFL, 18 sacks, 5 PBUs, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 FFs, 4 blocked kicks in 4-year career

  • Attended NFL Combine but did not participate as he recovered from offseason foot surgery, performed at Pro Day

Measurements

  • Height: 6’2

  • Weight: 304

  • Arm length: 32 3/8 inches

  • Hand: 9 1/2 inches

Fit with Chiefs

Newton is considered by some to be the best defensive tackle in the draft and it’s easy to see why.

Thickly built, Newton has a good burst off the ball and great hip explosion when engaging blockers. Newton has excellent hand usage, able to lock blockers out and shed them with ease because of his great strength.

His strong hands are easy to see when he is pass rushing as well. Newton is quick to swat the hands of offensive linemen and add a rip or swim move to go with it. When those moves don’t work, he has a strong bull rush that he falls back on.

Newton doesn’t have athletic testing numbers but those are easy to see as well. He has good footwork to go with his burst off the ball and his agility and speed are showcased when the Illini ran stunts that saw Newton with a free lane to the quarterback as a looper. He also has relentless pursuit and work ethic, always running toward the ball on every play.

He is not perfect of course though. His pad level can get too high and he can diagnose run plays quicker than he did at times.

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Newton played primarily as a 3-technique for the Illini and likely will do so wherever he goes in the NFL. To be on the same field as Chris Jones, Newton would likely have to be a 1-technique over the center which could cause big problems for opposing offenses. Newton would also be great in the rotation to start as a rookie, making sure there’s minimal drop off for Jones when he’s off the field.

Newton is a guaranteed first-round pick that the Chiefs would have to trade up for to get.

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