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2024 NFL Draft: Ranking Our Top Graded Interior Defensive Lineman (IDL) Led by Byron Murphy II

The 2024 NFL Draft stands out as one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, especially within the defensive line category. This depth and talent reflect the increasing significance of the interior defensive line in both college football and the NFL. A prime example of this trend is Justin Madubuike of the Baltimore Ravens, who recently inked a four-year, $98 million contract, underscoring the high value placed on versatile defensive linemen. Madubuike's ability to disrupt from various positions along the defensive front, especially from the A and B gaps, showcases his explosive first-step quickness and robust knockback power, essential for collapsing pockets. Moreover, his prowess in run defense, capable of filling gaps and directing runners wide, further elevates his profile. This rising importance is mirrored by the career of the recently retired Aaron Donald, a unique talent who defied size expectations to become one of the NFL's most dynamic defensive forces.


Byron Murphy, our top graded IDL in the 2024 NFL Draft

The top 5 pass rushers in the NFL from the 2023 NFL season, according to PFF
  1. Chris Jones - 15 sacks, 91 pressures

  2. Aaron Donald - 10 sacks, 86 pressures

  3. Justin Madubuike - 15 sacks, 77 pressures

  4. Ed Oliver - 11 sacks, 72 pressures

  5. Quinnen Williams - 6 sacks, 70 pressures


The average annual salary of each player's most recent contract, according to Spotrac

The average annual combined salary of the top 5 current NFL defensive linemen, according to overall pressures in 2023, is $23M.

  1. Chris Jones - $32M

  2. Aaron Donald - $32M

  3. Justin Madubuike - $25M

  4. Ed Oliver - $17M

  5. Quinnen Williams - $8M


The 2024 defensive line draft class is replete with players offering the kind of versatility NFL GMs and scouts are looking for. This analysis will dive into the defensive linemen I've evaluated, ranking them according to their overall grade as determined by the Football Scout 365 grading process.


How We Scout The Interior Defensive Line Positions

Scouting the interior defensive line position in the NFL requires evaluating a player's size, strength, athleticism, and technique.


Below is a list of critical components we use to grade the IDL position during the NFL Draft process. Every IDL receives a grade on a scale of 1-10 for each of the below components during the scouting process. Once each player component is graded, we attach a final grade to indicate where the player stands before entering the NFL Draft, and then we attach a ceiling grade based on future potential.


Here are some key factors to consider when scouting an interior defensive lineman:

Size and Strength: An interior defensive lineman needs to have size and strength to hold their ground against powerful offensive linemen. This includes their ability to generate power at the point of attack, maintain leverage, and shed blocks.


Athleticism: An interior defensive lineman needs to be athletic enough to move well and adjust to the speed and quickness of ball carriers. This includes their ability to move laterally, recover quickly, and execute proper footwork and hand placement.


Pass Rushing Ability: An interior defensive lineman needs to be able to get to the quarterback and disrupt the passing game. This includes their ability to generate pressure, penetrate the offensive line, and use a variety of pass-rushing techniques.


Run Stopping Ability: An interior defensive lineman needs to stop the run and limit the yardage gained by ball carriers. This includes their ability to maintain gap control, stuff the run, and pursue ball carriers.


Technique: An interior defensive lineman must have good technique to execute their assignments effectively. This includes their ability to use their hands and feet effectively to engage and shed blockers, maintain leverage, and finish tackles.


Football IQ: An interior defensive lineman's football intelligence is important to make quick decisions and adjustments on the field. This includes their ability to recognize offensive formations, diagnose plays, and communicate with their teammates.


Durability: An interior defensive lineman's durability is important, as they will be taking a lot of hits on the field. This includes their ability to stay healthy and recover quickly from injuries.


When scouting an interior defensive lineman, it's important to evaluate all of these factors and the player's overall performance on the field. It's also important to consider the team's specific needs and whether the interior defensive lineman's skills and attributes match the team's defensive system and style of play. Additionally, it's important to consider the interior defensive lineman's penalties and mental mistakes, as these can be a liability for the defense.


Football Scout 365's Top 11 Graded Defensive Lineman In the 2024 NFL Draft

The following analysis incorporates Football Scout 365 NFL Draft player grades, detailing each player's career total snaps and alignment throughout their collegiate careers. Utilizing a blend of film review and data analysis, we've assessed each player's play style and how they might adapt to the NFL, considering their college performance. This evaluation helps in identifying the most suitable NFL position for each player, based on their skill set and potential to transition effectively from college to the NFL.


Byron Murphy II - Texas Longhorns

Height/Weight: 6'1", 308 lbs

Ceiling Grade: Near Elite Level Potential

Draft Projection: mid-first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: A+

  • Run Defense Grade: B+


Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech: 408

  • 3 Tech: 694

  • 4 Tech: 16

  • Edge: 5

  • Off Ball: 5

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: IDL in a 4-3 Scheme

Byron Murphy II from the Texas Longhorns excels with a mix of power and aggression, making significant impacts, especially in run defense, through his play disruption at the line. His above-average agility, coupled with standout strength and explosiveness, positions him perfectly for 4-3 defensive schemes where run stopping and interior pocket pressure are key. Murphy’s top-tier pass rush grade and solid run defense capability showcase his potential to significantly influence the game from the interior. Highlighted by his effectiveness in passing situations, Murphy is set to offer near-elite contributions in the NFL.



2). Jer'Zhan Newton - Illinois Fighting Illini

Height/Weight: 6'2", 295 lbs

Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

Draft Projection: 1st round, picks 20-32


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: A

  • Run Defense Grade: B+

Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech: 129

  • 3 Tech: 725

  • 4 Tech: 16

  • Edge: 26

  • Off Ball: 15

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: 3-Tech in Hybrid Fronts

Jer'Zhan Newton's explosive athleticism and refined hand technique earmark him as a dynamic defensive playmaker, ideally positioned as a 3-tech in modern, versatile schemes. Despite size constraints, Newton's agility and technical prowess, particularly effective in run defense and pushing the pocket, highlight his potential to impact the NFL significantly. With further development in pass-rush strategy and leverage, Newton possesses the raw tools to reach Pro Bowl or even All-Pro status, making him a highly regarded prospect for teams looking for interior defensive line agility and penetration ability.



3). Braden Fiske - Florida State Seminoles

Height/Weight: 6'5", 300 lbs

Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

Draft Projection: Early to mid 2nd round


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: B

  • Run Defense Grade: C

Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech: 264

  • 3 Tech: 1060

  • 4 Tech: 81

  • Edge: 244

  • Off Ball: 3

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: 3-Tech in a 4-3 Defense

Braden Fiske stands out as an interior pass rusher in a 4-3 defense, where his speed and explosiveness disrupt quarterbacks effectively. To evolve into a more comprehensive three-down player, Fiske must bolster his run defense. His natural pad level and agility, combined with active hands, make him a menace in the pass rush, though his effectiveness against the run is hampered by his physical dimensions. Fiske would excel in a zone-blocking scheme that leverages his mobility and skill in open space.



4). Ruke Orhorhoro - Clemson Tigers

Height/Weight: 6'4", 295 lbs

Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

Draft Projection: Late round two, early round three


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: C+

  • Run Defense Grade: B+

Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech: 314

  • 3 Tech: 874

  • 4 Tech: 133

  • Edge: 72

  • Off Ball: 6

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: Defensive End in a 3-4 Scheme

Ruke Orhorhoro's versatility and power make him a formidable force across the defensive line, from the edge to the interior. Excelling in run stoppage and capable of applying quarterback pressure through a bullish approach, Orhorhoro fits seamlessly into a base 3-4 defense as an end. His athleticism allows him to adapt across various defensive formations, indicating his high-end starter potential in the NFL, particularly for teams prioritizing a mix of run defense and pass rush versatility.



5). Kris Jenkins - Michigan Wolverines

Height/Weight: 6'3", 305 lbs

Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

Draft Projection: Mid 2nd round, early round three


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: C

  • Run Defense Grade: A-

Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech: 12

  • 3 Tech: 560

  • 4 Tech: 418

  • Edge: 126

  • Off Ball: 13

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: Nose Tackle/Defensive Tackle in a 3-4/4-3 Scheme

Kris Jenkins brings a robust presence to the defensive line, thriving primarily in run-stopping roles. His strength allows him to stand firm against double teams, making him a crucial asset for 3-4 schemes as a nose tackle or in a 4-3 alignment as a defensive tackle. Jenkins' ability to disrupt the running game and push the pocket makes him notable, though he would benefit from refining his pass-rushing techniques. Jenkins' skill set suggests he might face challenges in schemes requiring extensive pass rush moves but stands out as a valuable player in defenses focusing on run stoppage and pocket disruption.



6). Michael Hall Jr. - Ohio State Buckeyes

Height/Weight: 6'2", 280 lbs

Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

Draft Projection: 3rd Round


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: A

  • Run Defense Grade: C+


Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech (A Gap): 58

  • 3 Tech (B Gap): 544

  • 4 Tech (Over Tackle): 81

  • Edge (Outside Tackle): 28

  • Off Ball: 3

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: 3-Tech in Even Fronts

Michael Hall Jr. brings a compelling combination of initial explosiveness, power, and agility to the Ohio State defensive line, making him especially effective as a 3-technique. His ability to leverage his burst and length into disruptive force positions him well for modern defenses that value quickness and technical skill over size. While there's room for improvement in rush balance, hand placement, and expanding his pass-rush moves, Hall Jr.'s natural fit in one-gap principles focusing on agility and speed to generate disruption marks him as a high-end starter with the potential to ascend to Pro Bowl or All-Pro levels with further refinement.



7). T'Vondre Sweat - Texas Longhorns

Height/Weight: 6'4", 362 lbs

Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

Draft Projection: Mid 2nd round, early round three


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: A

  • Run Defense Grade: A+


Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech (A Gap): 177

  • 3 Tech (B Gap): 941

  • 4 Tech (Over Tackle): 132

  • Edge (Outside Tackle): 25

  • Off Ball: 7

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: Interior Defensive Line

T'Vondre Sweat stands out as a potent run-stopper, perfectly fitting into NFL schemes that prioritize run defense. His control over blockers and significant impact on the run game point to his potential as a foundational piece in a defensive line rotation, especially in early downs. While his pass rush and agility present areas for growth, improvements in technique and conditioning could elevate his role to a versatile, three-down lineman, enhancing his overall impact on the defensive front.



8). Leonard Taylor III - Miami Hurricanes

Height/Weight: 6'3", 305 lbs

Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

Draft Projection: 4th Round


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: A

  • Run Defense Grade: C+


Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech (A Gap): 221

  • 3 Tech (B Gap): 575

  • 4 Tech (Over Tackle): 61

  • Edge (Outside Tackle): 7

  • Off Ball: 5

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: 3-Tech in Even Fronts

Leonard Taylor III showcases impressive strength and pass-rushing skills, making him particularly effective as a 3-technique in even fronts. His frame and strength contribute to his ability to disrupt plays, though consistency in pad level could further enhance his effectiveness against double teams and in bull rushes. Taylor's adaptability and skills set him up as a high-impact player on the defensive line with the potential for significant growth and contribution in various defensive schemes.



9). Brandon Dorlus - Oregon Ducks

Height/Weight: 6'3", 290 lbs

Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

Draft Projection: 3rd Round


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: B+

  • Run Defense Grade: B


Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech (A Gap): 36

  • 3 Tech (B Gap): 693

  • 4 Tech (Over Tackle): 502

  • Edge (Outside Tackle): 659

  • Off Ball: 13

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: Defensive Lineman (3-Tech/Edge)

Brandon Dorlus is recognized for his versatility on the defensive line, effectively playing both on the edge and inside. His technique and power are his standout attributes, especially against the run. Dorlus's ability to adapt to different roles within the defensive front makes him a valuable asset, particularly in schemes that value versatility and technique over outright speed.



10). Mekhi Wingo - LSU Tigers

Height/Weight: 6'1", 295 lbs

Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

Draft Projection: 4th Round


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: B

  • Run Defense Grade: B+


Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech (A Gap): 140

  • 3 Tech (B Gap): 1120

  • 4 Tech (Over Tackle): 284

  • Edge (Outside Tackle): 88

  • Off Ball: 10

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: 3-Tech in Even Fronts

Mekhi Wingo's speed, agility, and quick lateral block handling make him an ideal fit as a 3-technique in even fronts. Despite his smaller size, his first-step quickness and effectiveness against the pass set him apart, fitting well into schemes that prioritize quick, penetrating defensive tackles. Wingo's ability to disrupt from the interior positions him as a high-end starter with significant potential to impact the pass and run game alike.



11). Maason Smith - LSU Tigers

Height/Weight: 6'6", 315 lbs

Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

Draft Projection: 3rd Round


Performance Grades:

  • Pass Rush Grade: B+

  • Run Defense Grade: D+


Snaps by Alignment (Total for All Years):

  • 1 Tech (A Gap): 58

  • 3 Tech (B Gap): 596

  • 4 Tech (Over Tackle): 125

  • Edge (Outside Tackle): 164

  • Off Ball: 5

NFL Scheme Fit Summary:

Projected NFL Position: Interior Defensive Line (4i/5-Tech)

Maason Smith's imposing size, power, and explosiveness earmark him as a versatile and highly coveted asset across various NFL defensive schemes. His capacity to play multiple roles along the defensive front, from interior positions to the edge, increases his value significantly. Smith's length and strength allow him to effectively convert speed to power, posing a challenge to offensive tackles. Although his lateral agility and double-team management need improvement, Smith's foundational skills in pass rush and ability to disrupt plays highlight him as a potential top pick among interior defenders in the upcoming NFL Draft. His athleticism and toolkit for the pass rush position him for a strong career with the potential for considerable growth and impact in the right defensive system.



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