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Ranking Maason Smith, Jer’Zhan Newton, and Others

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Off of preliminary viewings, who are the top DT prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft class? The 2024 group doesn’t have a Jalen Carter — at least not yet. But there’s an abundance of depth and talent, and that talent yields a massive amount of potential energy as the season slowly approaches.

Ranking the Top DTs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Time will tell just how rewarding the returns are with the 2023 NFL Draft DT group, but on the surface, it’s an inspiring class. As long as he can stay on the right path, Jalen Carter is a blue-chip talent. Behind him, other prospects like Bryan Bresee, Calijah Kancey, Mazi Smith, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Keeanu Benton, and Zacch Pickens all have great upside.

The 2023 class was formidable. Carter, Bresee, Kancey, and Smith all earned Round 1 capital, and many others are in position to make a difference in the Day 2 and Day 3 ranges. As strong as the 2023 class was, however, the 2024 group has the potential to be even more substantial.

10) Paris Shand, LSU

The LSU Tigers have three defensive linemen on this list. It’s rare for a team to have that level of talent in a defensive line rotation, but LSU has it. How far the group ultimately rises may depend on its under-the-radar addition: Arizona transfer Paris Shand. Shand, who had 2.5 sacks and as many TFLs in 2022, has all the talent to break out if he can put it all together.

The prototype is there with Shand. He has a long 6’5″, 290-pound frame, and though he’s a bit lean, he can line up anywhere from 1-tech to 5-tech. He plays too upright at times, but when he’s on, Shand has one of the most explosive first steps in the class. He also has the flexibility to work around the apex after levying violent double swipes with his length.

9) Ty Hamilton, Ohio State

Although he only logged a half-sack in 2022, Ty Hamilton’s stats are misleading. He earned more opportunities as the 2022 season went on, and some of his best reps came in the team’s close playoff loss against the Georgia Bulldogs. Hamilton — the brother of Jaguars’ DL DaVon Hamilton — is just now coming into his prime, and he could be primed for a breakout.

MORE: FREE NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

Now listed at 6’3″, 295 pounds, Hamilton carries his weight and volume with impressive ease. Like his brother before him, he has the strength and density to absorb blocks and hold the line in run defense, but he’s also a high-motor threat with imposing burst and power drive in the pass-rushing phase. The best is yet to come for the younger Hamilton.

8) Darius Robinson, Missouri

The Missouri defense lost Isaiah McGuire in the 2023 NFL Draft, but they return a treasure trove of talent at other spots. Kris Abrams-Draine and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. return at cornerback, while Ty’Ron Hopper stands tall at the linebacker spot. And on the interior defensive line, Darius Robinson maintains a presence with his natural tools.

At 6’5″, 290 pounds, with arms over 35″ long, Robinson is built to get inside his blockers’ frames and prevent displacement. As a run defender, he holds up well, but he also has the straight-line burst and power capacity to carry value as a pass rusher. With 3.5 sacks and 5.5 TFLs, 2022 was a career year for Robinson, but another leap could be in store in 2023.

7) Leonard Taylor, Miami (FL)

A former five-star recruit, Miami’s Leonard Taylor has done nothing but confirm his pedigree with his play in college football. Since breaking out as a true freshman in 2021, Taylor has five sacks and 19 tackles for loss to his name, along with an interception as a bonus. Alongside Akheem Mesidor and Branson Deen in 2023, he’s only due for more.

Taylor wears 305 pounds about as well as a player can. His athletic 6’3″ frame affords him a great deal of alignment versatility, which he uses to his advantage. Interestingly, several of his pressures come from angle confusion, athleticism, and pure effort. He’s still refining his hand usage arsenal, but once Taylor starts to string together moves with consistency, look out.

6) Mekhi Wingo, LSU

Transferring from Missouri to LSU in 2022, Mekhi Wingo broke new ground in the bayou. He amassed 47 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, four pass deflections, two fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble in a career emergence. Wingo earned second-team All-SEC honors for his play, and in 2023, he’ll be a favorite on the draft circuit with his disruptive style.

MORE: Top 50 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Watchlist

We may come to have the same “outlier” conversation about Wingo that we had about Calijah Kancey. At 6’0″, 290 pounds, Wingo’s incredibly compact as a rusher. But with that compact size comes alignment versatility all the way out to 5-tech and beyond. For his size, he has surprising power capacity, and his legs churn like the Energizer Bunny after contact.

Lawrance Toafili (9) fights off a tackle from Florida State Seminoles defensive tackle Fabien Lovett (0).

5) Fabien Lovett, Florida State

Fabien Lovett accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle before opting to return to school for another year. He was already fielding all-star interest, and that interest should remain in the 2024 cycle. An injury limited Lovett to seven games in 2022, but when he was on the field, his impact was very stark.

At 6’4″, 315 pounds, Lovett is one of the best run defenders in the upcoming DT class. He’s long and burly, makes contact quickly, and can stack and shed and one-gap effectively with his raw strength, anchor placement, and torque. There’s also reason to believe, with his length and first-step quickness, Lovett has untapped potential as a pass rusher.

4) Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson

Ruke Orhorhoro had a strong case to declare after the 2022 campaign. But after accruing 6.5 sacks and 16 TFLs across 2021 and 2022, Orhorhoro instead chose to return to Clemson alongside Tyler Davis, enacting his fifth season of eligibility. Orhorhoro would’ve scored a Day 2 grade from me in 2023, and that’s where he starts in the 2024 NFL Draft cycle.

At around 6’4″, 303 pounds, Orhorhoro has enticing physical traits. He’s one of the most explosive athletes on this list, and he channels that burst with superb proportional length, culminating in elite raw power capacity. Orhorhoro came to America from Nigeria and didn’t start playing until his junior year of high school. But already, he’s extremely versatile, playing all across the front.

3) Michael Hall Jr., Ohio State

The Ohio State Buckeyes represent a football factory all across the board. And while the school hasn’t been quite as productive on the interior defensive line as it has been at positions like wide receiver and quarterback, there’s still high-quality talent to know at DT. The Buckeyes have two DTs on this list and another in the honorable mention category. The best is Michael Hall Jr.

Hall notched 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in a breakout 2022 campaign. He’s a bit undersized at 6’2″, 290 pounds, and maintaining his balance when working across-face can be an issue at times. But Hall has the bristling explosiveness, agility, and natural leverage to play between 3-tech and 5-tech. He uses those same traits to capitalize in one-on-one situations — with swims and rips — and stunts across the formation.

2) Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois

The Illinois defense was a dominant unit in 2022, and that was reflected in the amount of 2023 NFL Draft talent they produced. Devon Witherspoon, Sydney Brown, and Jartavius Martin all loomed near the top of their positions, and had he declared, Jer’Zhan Newton would have been in a similar situation. Instead, he’s one of the top DTs in the 2024 NFL Draft.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

Newton is coming off a career-best campaign that saw him earn 61 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three pass deflections, and two fumble recoveries. At 6’2″, 280 pounds, he has the versatility to rush inside or use ankle flexion and active hands to work around the apex. Through it all, he’s strong and stout enough to disrupt in the run game as well. He and Hall are similarly sized, but Newton is the better player right now.

Who Is the Best DT in the 2024 NFL Draft?

If you need a disruptive defensive lineman, the 2024 NFL Draft class has what you need. But as many DTs as there are vying for top-10 spots, only one has the truly transcendent traits to submit an early case for the DT1 mantle. Others could challenge him, but no one can match the raw physical skill set possessed by LSU’s Maason Smith.

1) Maason Smith, LSU

This ranking is admittedly a large projection, especially after Maason Smith’s 2022 campaign. Smith broke onto the scene in violent fashion with a four-sack, five-TFL true freshman outing in 2021. But on the very first defensive drive of the 2022 season, Smith tore his ACL during a celebration.

Thus, Smith spent most of the 2022 season in recovery mode, and he’s still working his way back. But now nearing 100% again, the expectation is that Smith will be back to full strength for the 2023 campaign. And if he is, he has the upside to be the first DT selected in the 2024 NFL Draft.

In his standout true freshman campaign, Smith was able to accomplish things on tape that not all seniors can boast. At 6’5″, 300 pounds, with arms likely over 34″, Smith expectedly holds his own in run defense. But then you see him line up at 5-tech, explode off the line, and bend around the edge while unleashing cross-chops and swims, and you know you’re not dealing with a normal player.

The sheer degree of two-phase upside, alignment versatility, and raw upside that Smith provides doesn’t come around very often. It’s all contingent on him coming back at full health, but if he does, Smith is one of the few DTs in the 2024 NFL Draft who has the talent to reach the blue-chip range.

Honorable Mentions

  • Braden Fiske, Florida State
  • Shemar Turner, Texas A&M
  • Tyler Davis, Clemson
  • Keith Randolph Jr., Illinois
  • Tyleik Williams, Ohio State
  • Kyon Barrs, USC
  • Akheem Mesidor, Miami (FL)
  • Branson Deen, Miami (FL)
  • Mosiah Nasili-Kite, Auburn
  • Nazir Stackhouse, Georgia

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Taylor Swift Is Shown Chugging a Beer on the Jumbotron at Super Bowl 58

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Global superstar Taylor Swift made it to the big game to support her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce. In the second quarter, it was evident that she was having a good time at the Super Bowl after taking a 12-hour flight from Tokyo the night prior.

Taylor Swift Seen Chugging Beer at Super Bowl

Swift’s attendance has been highly anticipated, as many fans questioned whether she would be able to make it to the big game since she had been in Japan until Saturday for her Eras Tour.

Sure enough, she made it to the Super Bowl and was seen making a grand entrance alongside Blake Lively and Ice Spice.

Swift made it back to the States with plenty of time to make it to Allegiant Stadium to support Kelce. After a leg of her Eras Tour, where she performed several nights in Japan, the singer appeared to let loose.

In a box full of friends, Swift was shown chugging a beer with Ashley Avignone. She was shown on the jumbotron and slammed her cup down after she finished her beer.

There was a mix of cheers and boos as Swift was shown on the big screen, and a long pass to Mecole Hardman was the only highlight of the first half for Swift and her friends. The 49ers led the Chiefs, 10-0, late in the second quarter.

On social media, Swift garnered plenty of support from NFL fans.

If you’re hating on her you can kick rocks man she’s the best,” one user posted on X

“The one thing I learned this season is that she is actually fun,” another said. 

“Booing Taylor Swift chugging a beer is so soft. She’s just one of us now and I respect it ,” another posted. 

At the time of the beer chugging, Kelce, Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, has had one catch for a single yard. It came on the first possession, which ended up being a three-and-out. The Kansas City Chiefs hadn’t done much otherwise.

They did have a deep pass play to Hardman, which put them in the red zone, but Isiah Pacheco fumbled on the very next play — one that Kelce was surprisingly on the sideline for.

Swift and Kelce have garnered much media attention as their romance has taken off throughout this NFL season.

Swift was able to support her boyfriend at many of his games throughout the final stretch of the season, as her Eras Tour was on a break. But starting on Feb. 7, she went back on the road.

MORE: NFL World Reacts to Unbelievable Super Bowl Trick Play

Despite performing in Tokyo the night before the Super Bowl, she was able to make it in time to support her boyfriend due to the time difference and is having a good time doing so.

As the 2023 NFL season comes to a close, the 2024 NFL Draft is on the horizon. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast

Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.



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What Happened to the 49ers Linebacker?

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The San Francisco 49ers sustained a massive blow during the second quarter of Super Bowl 58, as linebacker Dre Greenlaw left the game on a medical cart.

CBS Sports confirmed that the veteran Greenlaw suffered an Achilles tear, ruling him out for the rest of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

What Happened to Dre Greenlaw?

The outside linebacker, who had already been battling past injuries to his hamstrings and calves, left with what appeared to be a leg injury.

And somehow, his left leg looked like it buckled as he tried to trot onto the field with the Niners’ defense.

Greenlaw clutched his left leg in agony before being helped off the field.

CBS Sports sideline reporter Evan Washburn reported that the outside linebacker left with what was ruled as a lower leg injury. He was later determined to sustain an Achilles injury.

Greenlaw was declared out for the rest of the game.

Greenlaw Carted Off in Passenger Seat

Even more noticeable was where Greenlaw sat on the cart.

He ended up leaving not in the back of the medical vehicle but ended up riding shotgun with his leg injury.

One would think that with an injury like an Achilles ailment, medical officials would try to make the player as comfortable as possible before they leave. It wasn’t the case here.

MORE: San Francisco 49ers Depth Chart

Regardless, Greenlaw was replaced by Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles for the rest of the first half. Greenlaw became the most significant injury of the game.

As the 2023 NFL season comes to a close, the 2024 NFL Draft is on the horizon. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast

Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.



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NFL World Reacts to Epic Super Bowl Intro From CBS

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Super Bowl 58 is here and it’s going to be exciting. The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are facing off in the final game of 2023.

CBS is broadcasting the game and the opening was nothing short of amazing. How is the NFL world reacting to the electric Super Bowl-opening video?

Epic CBS Super Bowl Intro Garners Reaction From NFL World

The video, which spanned four minutes and 19 seconds, featured players from both teams talking about the big game and what it means to them. It also featured their families talking about their journeys to this point.

“Amazing intro! Reminds me of my dad! Bravo on the intro!,” one NFL fan said on X (formerly known as Twitter)

Additionally, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” played in the background, giving it a near-movie feel. “This was incredible.,” another person said on X. “And so, the @49ers and @Chiefs face that final curtain,” CBS Sports said.

The 49ers finished the regular season as the top seed in the NFC with a 12-5 record. After their first-round bye, they defeated both the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions to earn their trip to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl. Both of their victories came in comeback fashion, including an NFC Championship-record 17-point comeback.

The Chiefs, on the other hand, had a more uphill battle. Entering the playoffs as the AFC’s third seed, they finished the regular season with an 11-6 record. In the playoffs, they defeated the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and Baltimore Ravens to punch their ticket.

Super Bowl 58 is a re-match of Super Bowl 54 when the Chiefs defeated the 49ers 31-24. The win was the first in Patrick Mahomes career, as he also won Super Bowl MVP. Four years later, the Chiefs have made three more and won another. For the 49ers, this is their first trip back to the big game since.

The game kicked off at 6:30 p.m. ET with the 49ers receiving the opening kick. In addition to being broadcast on CBS, the game is also being streamed on Paramount+.

As the 2023 NFL season comes to a close, the 2024 NFL Draft is on the horizon. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast

Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.



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