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Draft Watch: 49ers attend Illinois DT Jer’Zhan Newton’s pro day

Apr 16, 2024 at 11:34 AM


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Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz reports that the San Francisco 49ers were among several NFL teams in attendance for former Illinois defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton's pro day workout. The defender also goes by the name "Johnny."


Newton registered 52 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss, a career-high 7.5 sacks, two passes defensed, and a forced fumble through 12 game appearances as a senior in 2023, per Sports Reference. Throughout his collegiate career, he recorded 187 tackles, including 27.5 for a loss, 18 sacks, five passes defensed, and two forced fumbles over four seasons.

San Francisco lost longtime defensive tackle Arik Armstead but traded for Maliek Collins and signed free agent Jordan Elliott. The team is expected to address the defensive line at some point during the draft, possibly even in the first round.

Newton earned first-team Associated Press All-American, Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2023. His 84.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus was the 11th highest among all interior defensive linemen last season.

Interestingly, NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein compares Newton to current 49ers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.

"Active interior defender with the potential to build on his disruptive production in college," Zierlein wrote in his scouting report. "Newton's size and length don't stand out, but he has shown a consistent ability to gain extension and set edges against bigger opponents. Newton is clever in setting up blockers and then beating them with sudden hand usage and foot quickness as both a run defender and a pass rusher.

"He's strong enough to hold the point, but he's not going to overwhelm NFL guards with force or power. His skill level and athleticism should create additional playmaking opportunities for him as a three-down 3-technique with early starting potential."

Visit our pre-draft tracker for a comprehensive overview of all reported formal and informal meetings between the 49ers and prospective NFL rookies.

The 2024 NFL Draft will take place in Detroit, Michigan, from Thursday, April 25, through Saturday, April 27.



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