Rookie Profile: Jer’Zhan Newton

Rookie Profile: Jer’Zhan Newton, Defensive Lineman, Washington Commanders


Welcome to the Rookie Profile for Jer‚ÄôZhan Newton a defensive lineman out of Illinois. He is from Clearwater, FL, and was a 3-star recruit out of Clearwater Central Catholic.

Newton committed to the Illinois Fighting Illini in December of 2019. At that time he was ranked as DL47 on 247sports.

He finished his freshman season with 23 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 1 fumble forced through 8 games played. Each year thereafter he would continue to improve his game.

In his sophomore season, he continued on his early success by doubling his tackles and sacks. He finished with 50 total tackles and 3.5 sacks through 12 games. In 2022, he was selected to the All-Big Ten First Team after leading the team with 5.5 sacks.

In his senior season, 2023, Newton became a team captain. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Newton is leaving the Fighting Illini after having 123 total pressures with 18 total sacks in his four-year career.


Measurables

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Draft Capital & Landing Spot

Draft Capital- Round 2 Pick 36

  • Newton was ranked as one of the top interior defensive linemen coming into the draft. Some even had him as the best of the group. Pre-draft mocks had him as a first-round pick. So, with the fourth pick in the second round, Newton could be considered a steal for the Washington Commanders. He is a physical run-stopper in the middle of the defense. Newton has the explosive techniques to get off the snap quickly to disrupt the backfield. The talent is there for him to be a valuable piece to any defense. However, the landing spot for him becomes a head-scratcher.

Landing Spot- Washington Commanders

  • The Washington Commanders lost two great edge rushers last season in Chase Young and Montez Sweat. They kept two interior defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. This is where confusion comes in. An area of need was more on the outside rather than the middle of their defense. Yet, they chose to go with the value pick of Jer’Zhan Newton rather than an edge rusher. Newton is a 3-technique interior rusher who will be a solid depth piece for the Commanders with the potential to be an eventual starter. But considering who the Commanders already have for their interior of the defensive line it is hard to see Newton get in on reps early.

Team Depth Chart

Expected Role: Rotational Defensive Lineman

Washington Commanders IDP Depth Chart

Depth Chart via Fantasy Pros

Fantasy Impact

Defensive players are always trickier to break down for their fantasy impact. Defensive tackles could be considered one of the lesser positions of need in your IDP leagues. They do not typically wrap up many tackles and they are not getting interceptions for the most part. This means if you are drafting any interior defensive lineman you want a guy that will get multiple sacks. To be any sort of relevant though you want 10 or more sacks at least. Newton can develop into that type of player, but the start of his career may be rocky considering his landing spot. Do not get sucked into the draft capital the Commanders spent on him. Instead, let him slide to you in the later rounds and have him on your taxi squad for year one.


Check out our 2024 Rookie Rankings Page for a full breakdown of this rookie class.

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