Pre-season 2024 NFL Draft Rankings: Defensive line

With the 2024 NFL Draft offense done, it’s time for the first part on defense for my pre-season rankings: the defensive line. This group seems to have fallen back to the median of defensive line classes that we have had recently. The 2023 class was pretty solid, but the 2024 class early on looks like another average class. There are some juniors who, if they have big seasons, could improve the class though.

 As always, check out my draft database as well as all of my previous work, including the most recent part in this series on the interior offensive line.

Photo Credit: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2024 NFL Draft Defensive Line: Top Five

  1. Ruke Orhorhoro – Clemson: Orhorhoro being at #1 is a bit of a projection. Despite being behind Tyler Davis and Bryan Bresee, he has seen a lot of snaps over the last two seasons due to injuries to both. Still, he has only had a little over 1,000 snaps in his career. Orhorhoro has 42 pressures and eight sacks in that time. That’s even with him being played out of position a lot of times at 0-tech or 1-tech. If he plays mostly 3-tech, 4-tech, or 4i, where he can use his athleticism, he will take off.
  2. Jer’Zhan Newton – Illinois: After being mostly just an okay defensive lineman, Newton really exploded in 2022 with 59 pressures and four sacks. At 6’1 300 with sub 5.0 40-yard dash speed, he fits the mold of the modern 3-tech penetrator. The only reason I don’t have him as #1 is that he’s not going to play much outside that, but he’s really good at it.
  3. Keith Randolph Jr. – Illinois: Randolph is a well put together man at 6’3 300 pounds and expected to run in the 5.05 40-yard dash range. He is a very good run defender who can play up and down the line. Randolph also showed some development as a pass rusher in 2022 with 32 pressures and four sacks. He may never be a top-tier pass rusher, but he can at least be a threat that teams have to be weary of.
  4. Tyleik Williams – Ohio State: Williams is listed 6’2 290, but played over 300 pounds the last two seasons and is very stout in the run game. He has also not played a lot due to depth along the OSU defensive line, with zero starts in his career. This makes his 31 pressures and eight sacks in his career all the more impressive. He should start in 2023, which will be a big season for him.
  5. Leonard Taylor – Miami(Fla.): Taylor was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, but was not ready as a freshman since he only played about 200 snaps. He became a starter in 2022, and seemed to start putting it together. His pass rush production was a little up-and-down, with 25 pressures and four sacks.

2024 NFL Draft Defensive Line: The Best Of The Rest

6.DeWayne Carter – Duke: Surprisingly, Carter has not gotten much talk heading into the season. He is a squatty 6’3 308, built low to the ground, but with very quick feet for his size. Carter even has a solid spin move in his arsenal. He flashed a bit in 2021 as a pass rusher with 37 pressures and four sacks, but was getting knocked around in the run game. The current Blue Devil really improved on his play against the run in 2022, playing more stout, and improved as a pass rusher with 52 pressures and eight sacks. He does need to tackle better and his arms are a little short.

7. McKinnley Jackson – Texas A&M: Another highly rated recruit who hasn’t reach his immense potential yet. Jackson was a back up his first two years. Another squat defender at 6’2 320, but has long arms for his size. He has shown strength and leverage in the run game to shove offensive linemen into the backfield. Not an elite athlete. Despite his pedestrian pass rush numbers, he looks like he has upside on film.

8. Brandon Dorlus – Oregon: Dorlus is more of a trim 6’3 280 compared to some of the much larger guys in this group. Oregon plays him as an edge rusher, but he will end up playing on the defensive line. He has been a solid all-around player the last two seasons. Dorlus is also a solid pass rusher, but he has some struggles as a finisher. This shows with his 88 pressures the last two seasons, but just five sacks.

9. Darrell Jackson Jr. – Florida State: Jackson is now on his third school in as many years. He started out at Maryland, then Miami, now Florida State. Jackson has the ideal frame at 6’6 300. His career started a little slow, but came around a bit in 2022. He played well against the run and showed his versatility lining up all up and down the line. He has yet to show much as a pass rusher, with just three sacks and 16 pressures in 2022. At worst, you’re are getting a versatile run defender.

10. Jermayne Lole – Louisville: Coming out of high school, Lole was actually an edge rusher, but grew into a defensive linemen and now tips the scales around 320. He still retains some of that athleticism running a 4.95 40-yard dash. Lole finally started showing what he could be in 2020 at Arizona State with 18 pressures and four sacks in a truncated season due to COVID. He missed 2021 with a triceps injury, along with most of 2022. It will be big for his stock if he came come back as the top run defender and occasional pass rush threat he was before the injuries.

1 thought on “Pre-season 2024 NFL Draft Rankings: Defensive line

  1. Pingback: Pre-season 2024 NFL Draft Rankings: Edge Rushers

Leave a Reply