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NFL Draft 2024 - 10 defensive players to look out for

The 2024 NFL Draft will take place in Detroit from April 25-27 and while the opening round could see as many as 20 players taken on the offensive side of the ball, there are still some difference-makers to be found on defense. In a draft that has promising cornerback and edge rusher talent, here are 10 defensive players to look out for next week.


A rising star who has crushed the pre-Draft process, Quinyon Mitchell will be one of the first defensive players to hear his name called in round one. There are no concerns about smaller-school production here. Mitchell is big at 6-foot and close to 200 pounds and given that he is built like a running back, he has no qualms about playing the run. But he shines in the passing game; as you would expect. He is feisty, tough and can find the football.


Versatility is the name of Terrion Arnold's game. He can play outside or in the slot and he can play man to man in a receiver's face or off coverage. Arnold is another big corner at 6-foot and he has been compared to New Orleans Saints star Marshon Lattimore. After arriving at Alabama as a safety, Arnold has made the successful switch to the island on the outside and has the potential to be a Pro Bowl cornerback in the NFL.


A key performer on Alabama's defense for the past three years, Dallas Turner is one of a handful of very intriguing edge-rusher prospects in this draft. At 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, Turner is long and athletic and boasts all the explosive traits needed to be an elite pass-rusher in the NFL. He has already drawn comparisons to Brian Burns, now of the New York Giants. Always having played for winning programmes is a nice little bit of icing on top of the cake.


After starring at Albany and then Florida State, Jared Verse is ready to make an instant impact in the NFL. He is a little thicker than Turner and was moved up and down the line by the Seminoles. His speed-to-power ratio is hard to block and his instincts mean that he reads plays well and doesn't let linemen lock onto him. Verse can play in a variety of fronts, making him attractive to modern-day NFL teams who like to mix things up from play to play and drive to drive.


The first of the big inside defensive linemen to come off the board will be Texas' Byron Murphy II. But he is no space-eating run-stuffer, just to be clear. Murphy is a quick-twitch, nimble-toed big man who can rush the passer. The 300-pounder plays with elite explosiveness, power and balance and has been compared to Buffalo's Ed Oliver. Murphy plays with a motor that keeps on running and his attitude is excellent. Coaches will love that.


Recording just 11 ½ sacks in three college seasons (the first of those being at Maryland) is not going to jump off the page at you when looking at Chop Robinson's prospects at the next level. But his physical skills are ideal for rushing the passer in the NFL. This is a twitched-up freak of an athlete who can get off the ball like lightning. He isn't the smoothest pass-rusher in the sport, but he can be coached up and while he didn't always get sacks in college, Robinson was nearly always disruptive. This is an athletic diamond in the rough.


Cooper DeJean is a playmaking cornerback with good size at 6-foot and 203 pounds. With seven inerceptions in his last two college seasons, DeJean has shown good instincts. He is also a force against the run or when defending passes caught in front of him. He will race down and smack ball-carriers with a vengeance. The concerns are how DeJean will hold up in man coverage in the NFL. There are many who believe he could eventually transition to safety and he has already been compared to the great Eric Weddle.


Dubbed the most skilled pass-rusher in this class by NFL Network Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, there will be a lot of interest in UCLA's Laiatu Latu. His speed and power is not elite and doesn't even match up to others in this class, but he consistently wins with a mix of technique, bend and football smarts. He never gives up and plays with a high motor from start to finish. If your team drafts Latu, get excited – he has been compared to T.J. Watt!


It's indicative of the way the game is played today that there is just not as much value placed on a linebacker when compared to cornerbacks and edge rushers – you can never have enough of those. But Edgerrin Cooper should be a first-round pick on April 25. Cooper is a long and rangy linebacker who is comfortable dropping into coverage on passing plays. He is explosive, catches your eye with his top-end speed and desire to find the football and is ready to start from day one.


What a name! That's worthy of being a first-round pick on its own. McKinstry was a consistent, rock-solid player at Alabama; excelling thanks to his mix of intelligence and athleticism. He can play in a variety of coverages and schemes and, of course, is used to winning as a member of the Crimson Tide. The only knock on McKinstry is his lack of top-end speed. Will he get exposed when he comes up against the burners of the NFL?