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Seven Days Out: Defensive Line Status in the 2024 NFL Draft

0418 Draft Article DL

JACKSONVILLE – Interior defensive line often is a premium draft position.

It matters enough to NFL teams that it's commonly selected in the Top 10 in many years – often at the expense of higher-profile positions. This is not one of those years.

"It's not a great defensive tackle class, unfortunately," ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller said.

Analysts' pre-draft projections reflect that view.

While eight defensive tackles have been selected in the Top 13 of the last 10 drafts, few analysts project a defensive tackle higher than about midway through the first round in the 2024 NFL Draft. Some analysts project University of Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy in the middle of Round 1, with defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton of Illinois and Kris Jenkins of Michigan the lone other tackles typically projected in the first round.

One reason for the lack of first-round projected tackles: In an era in which pressuring quarterbacks is a defensive trait valued above all others, that ability is relatively scarce in this class.

"It's really weak as far as those pure three-technique pass rushers," Miller said.

Darius Robinson of Missouri and T'Vondre Sweat of Texas also have been projected as second-round selections.

"They're all a little different," ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "Teams will break it down more so by a skillset and how they fit into a scheme."

Many analysts consider this draft not as strong in the later rounds as the 2023 draft and believe the draft overall won't be as strong as the 2025 draft, with tackle reflecting that trend.

"There's not as much depth," NFL/Jaguars Media analyst Bucky Brooks said. "You've got guys like Newton and Murphy, and then it falls off."

Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Brooks said while multiple tackles throughout the draft possess specific encouraging traits, and while there are run-stuffing interior defenders throughout the draft, there are perhaps limited players who excel overall with ability to disrupt the run game in the backfield and/or pressure quarterbacks.

"There are guys who can play the run deeper in the draft, but the front-line guys who can penetrate … you don't have that," Brooks said. "I would say overall it's just a different class than what we normally have."

Brooks said that's the case at many defensive positions this season, with good players with specific traits more the norm than elite prospects.

"You have to know what you want and you can't go in with desperation thinking, 'We have to immediate impact at this position or that position,'" Brooks said, "because I think we'll all be disappointed.

"The only position where I say that you can get an immediate upgrade in this draft on defense are really safety and corner. It's going to be a year at some positions on defense where the coaches have to make whatever we have better."


If this appeared a moderate need for the Jaguars entering the offseason, that quickly became less the case. The Jaguars shortly before the March 13 start of the 2024 NFL League Year released veteran defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi, a move that left them with DaVon Hamilton and Roy Robertson-Harrisas returning prominent starters – with Adam Gotsis and Jeremiah Ledbetter also having been key parts of the defensive line rotation in recent seasons. The Jaguars in mid-March signed defensive tackle Arik Armstead as a free agent. Armstead, who played his first nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, is expected to add stoutness and disruption to a defensive interior that struggled at the end of the 2023 season. The trio of Hamilton, Robertson-Harris and Armstead makes this a solid area – particularly if Hamilton returns to full health after a back issue hampered him much of the 2023 season. Still, the position depends on rotation and depth, and it wouldn't be a shock if the Jaguars addressed the area early in the draft.

--John Oehser


Fair to low – and perhaps not nearly as likely as receiver, corner or offensive line.


On the roster:

  • Arik Armstead
  • Tyler Lacy
  • De'Shaan Dixon
  • Adam Gotsis
  • Jeremiah Ledbetter
  • Henry Mondeaux
  • Esezi Otomewo
  • Roy Robertson-Harris
  • DaVon Hamilton


  1. Jer'Zhan Newton, senior, Illinois
  2. Byron Murphy II, junior, Texas
  3. Kris Jenkins, junior, Michigan
  4. Darius Robinson, senior, Missouri
  5. Brandon Dorlus, senior, Oregon


Newton, Murphy, Jenkins.

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