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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - Jer’Zhan Newton

by J.T. Toth

Photo courtesy of The Champaign Room.

At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.

Today’s Spotlight - Illinois, Defensive Lineman, Jer’Zhan Newton

Name- Jer’Zhan Newton

Pos- Defensive Lineman

Team- Illinois

HT/WT- 6’2” 295 lbs.

Born- 8/31/2002

Home – Clearwater, FL

Newton was a 3-star recruit out of Clearwater Central Catholic High School in Clearwater, Florida. He played running back as well as defensive line, and he also played basketball in high school. He was a 2019 MaxPreps All-American and selected Illinois over a slew of scholarship offers.

As a true freshman in 2020, Newton played in all 8 games at defensive tackle, starting two contests. He was the highest rated true-freshman defender in the country by Pro Football Focus (85.8). He ended the season with 23 tackles and 1 forced fumble.

In 2021, Newton started 11 of the 12 games and had a stellar season, being named All-Big Ten honorable mention. He was all around the ball and finished the season with 50 tackles and 3 sacks.

Newton’s 2022 season saw him take a big step towards becoming one of the top defensive tackles in the country. He finished the campaign with 62 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hurries, and 2 fumble recoveries. He was named an AP second-team All-American.

Newton has an initial explosion and violent hands, giving him the upper hand in most situations. He has strong balance and rarely goes to the ground during confrontations. He pursues the ball carrier sideline to sideline and tallies a high number of tackles for an interior lineman. He has the potential to be a 3-down lineman in the NFL with his pass rushing ability. He is a tough competitor who is very hard to move one-on-one. He has an above average spin move and knows when to use it.

On the negative side, Newton relies on his strength to beat blockers and will need to add some finesse and speed moves to fool NFL level opponents. Oftentimes, he’s too much of a straight line player and struggles to play low, losing his leverage.

Draft 412 was reminded of Buffalo Bills' DT Ed Oliver when looking at film of Newton. Unlike Oliver, Jer’Zhan Newton will not be a first round pick, but he mimics many of Oliver’s abilities and could be a reliable starter in the NFL.


  • High motor

  • Violent hands

  • Run defense

  • Potential 3-down player


  • Leverage/ base

  • Side-to-side

  • Relies too much on strength

Final Analysis

Newton has a ton of experience going into his last season and has a chance to play himself into becoming a 2nd day pick.

Draft 412 Draft Prediction - Round 2 or 3

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