2024 NFL Draft Rankings: Defensive Tackle

Previous Rankings in this series:

  1. Quarterbacks
  2. Wide Receivers
  3. Tight Ends
  4. Edge Rushers
  5. Linebackers

With the NFL draft around the corner, fans get ready to celebrate and welcome new heroes, jeer poor decisions, and enjoy the surprises. Last year, I was shocked to see Adetomiwa Adebawore drop to the fourth round, and this year, another favorite will surely do the same. The draft is full of difference-makers, but a 3-tech could be a massive game-changer for the Bears. The defensive tackle position isn’t deep, but there is undoubtedly some talent. Whether you’re looking for a 3-tech or a nose tackle, you can find talent in this class. Here are my rankings for the 2024 defensive tackle class.

Matt Eberflus said the defensive tackle was the engine of his defense, and the Bears proved that when they used three draft picks for the position last year. The Bears took Gervon Dexter 53rd overall and then quickly at 64, took Zacch Pickens. The Bears then made Travis Bell the first Kennesaw State player drafted, selecting him at 218, but he never made the final roster. Justin Jones left this offseason to join the Cardinals, but the Bears retained Andrew Billings, who was a pleasant surprise last year. Demarcus Walker could rotate in, but I’d like to see the Bears add one more tackle. The Bears only have four picks for now, but if they love a defensive tackle that falls to them, Ryan Poles may need to draft one.

1.Jer’Zhan Newton Illinois 6’2″ 304lbs

Jer’Zhan Newton was a star at Illinois, posting 7.5 sacks and 52 total tackles in his final season. He’s just a hair undersized, but he packs a heavy punch with pin-point strikes to keep linemen off-balanced. Newton struggled to anchor double teams, but he used good pad level and leverage to win often one-on-one. He stacks and sheds blocks at a high level and is an intelligent player in run defense. Newton has the versatility to play from the two-gap to the nine-gap successfully. If he lessens his frequency of drawing penalties, he’ll have success at the next level. 

2. Braden Fiske FSU 6’4″ 292lbs

Oh Yeah! That was what Braden Fiske was heard saying as he finished his 40-yard dash, and Fiske didn’t stop there. He dominated the combine, putting up great numbers across the board, but I wasn’t surprised. Everything I saw on tape translated to the NFL Combine. Fiske is an explosive athlete who uses violent hands, pad level, and leverage to win consistently, and paired with a high motor; he is a menace. He’s slightly undersized and too easily disrupted by powerful punches, but he counters intelligently and overcomes with his speed. I love this prospect, and I’ll be following his career very closely. 

3. Byron Murphy II Texas 6’0″ 297lbs 

Another explosive athlete, Texas’ Byron Murphy II, will be a starter in the league, and few teams will delay the inevitable past his rookie year. Murphy has a good swim move, strong drive, and maintains a low pad level. He can anchor a double team and even work through them if necessary. Murphy fell to my third spot because he needs to polish his hand technique and put it all together more consistently. He plays slower than his 40-time would suggest, and he’s a bit slow laterally and in pursuit. Despite that, Murphy is still a powerful and intelligent player, and he’ll be a force for years. 

4. Michael Hall Jr. Ohio State 6’3″ 290lbs

Michael Hall Jr. is another favorite of mine, and NFL teams won’t let him fall too far in the draft. Hall is a strong, hard-working tackle who sheds blocks well. Unfortunately, Hall will work around to the outside too often, but his hand technique and speed consistently land him in the backfield. He has phenomenal balance and a high motor, and I rarely saw him on the turf. Hall is undersized, though, and he will run into trouble with NFL size. If he wants to complete his game, he’ll need to get more explosive and violent, but Hall has a lot of what it takes to find consistent penetration at the next level.

5. Leonard Taylor III Miami 6’3″ 303lbs

The Bears can find a better fit than Leonard Taylor III, but I must give him the credit he’s due. Taylor is best as a nose, but he’s a penetrator, and he’ll drive through gaps with violent, active hands. His large frame and length led to playing too tall with poor pad level, but he uses that length to set and shed blocks. In 2022, Taylor had 10.5 TFLs, but unfortunately, that led to consistent double teams in 2023. He has a quick first step to penetrate early, and as a rookie, he won’t see as many double teams. Expect Taylor to start his career strong. 

6. T’Vondre Sweat Texas 6’4″ 366lbs

Like Taylor, T’Vondre Sweat projects to play nose-tackle in the NFL, and he’ll be most effective in the run game. He has a big, wide frame and plugs holes using pure power. Sweat isn’t a threat in the passing game, and he will need to work on lateral movement, but in the run game, he could dominate. Sweat uses powerful punches to knock linemen off balance, and if you’re a running back, beware of his violent tackling. Unfortunately, Sweat was arrested on April 7th on a charge of suspicion of driving while intoxicated and may see his draft stock drop. If he faces disciplinary action, that will give him a late start, but once he gets caught up, Sweat has a niche that can help any NFL team. 

7. Mekhi Wingo LSU 6’0″ 284lbs

8. Kris Jenkins Michigan 6’3″ 299lbs

9. Ruke Ohorhoro Clemson 6’4″ 294lbs

10. Maason Smith Michigan 6’5″ 306lbs

11. Jordan Jefferson LSU 6’3″ 313lbs

12. Dewayne Carter Duke 6’2″ 302lbs

13. Zion Logue Georgia 6’6″ 314lbs

14. McKinnley Jackson Texas A&M 6’1″ 326lbs

15. Tyler Davis Clemson 6’2″ 301lbs

16. Marcus Harris Auburn 6’2” 286lbs

17. Gabe Hall Baylor 6’6″ 291lbs

18. Keith Randolph Jr 6’3” 296lbs

19. Justin Rogers Auburn 6’2″ 330lbs

20. Jermayne Lole Louisville 6’3″ 310lbs

21. Myles Murphy North Carolina 6’4″ 309lbs

22. Jaden Crumedy Mississippi State 6’4″ 304lbs

23. Fabien Lovett Sr. FSU 6’4″ 314lbs

24. Logan Lee Iowa 6’5″ 281lbs

25. Elijah Simmons Tennessee 6’2″ 340lbs

My rankings have changed a lot in the last few months. To hear more analysis and my original rankings check out The Chicago Bears Den Podcast.

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