Potential Vikings prospect No. 3
IDL Jer'Zhan Newton (Illinois)
This is a bit of a different look given Jer'Zhan Newton did not have a standout performance like others on this list but he is a player who deserves some props. He enters the season as a late-first-round prospect but I think he ultimately will end up higher than that when the season ends.
Newton is a freak of an athlete in the middle of the defensive line and that is something that the Vikings have lacked for quite some time now. The run defense has been a mess and there has been zero consistency in rushing the passer from the middle of the line and Newton is the type of player that can change that.
Jer'Zhan, also known as Johnny, was a force for Illinois last season with 14.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. In his debut this season against Toledo he totaled three tackles in an Illini victory. His ability to rush the passer and flash his unreal speed given his size make Newton one of the more exciting prospects in this draft.
He can fly to the ball but also muscle his way through the offensive line and terrorize opposing backfields. The 2024 draft features a lot of talent in the trenches and Johnny Newton is perhaps the best of the bunch. From a Vikings standpoint, he can be the missing piece that resets the defense and gives them a force up the gut.