Top 5 Defensive Players In The 2024 NFL Draft Class

With how offensively talented the 2024 NFL draft class is, there will likely be fewer defensive players taken in the first round than we’re all accustomed to. Still, there are plenty of great defensive prospects to study. If your team ends up with one of these players you should feel lucky. As this is still early on in the draft process, these rankings are subject to change.

The Best Defensive Players in the 2024 NFL Draft

1. Dallas Turner, DE, Alabama

This spot is still up for debate but as of now, Alabama’s Dallas Turner is the best defensive player in the draft. NFL scouts have long been interested in Turner, as he jumped off the screen not only this year but last year when watching Will Anderson Jr.’s tape. Turner has the versatility to overwhelm opposing linemen with either power or agility. He certainly looked unblockable at times in 2023. He uses his length not only to rush the passer but to set the edge against running backs. He was the Crimson Tide’s biggest difference-maker this past year and figures to be a top-12 lock. 

2. Laiatu Latu, DE, UCLA

Dallas Turner may be defensive end one on many boards, but Laiatu Latu has a real case to take his place. The senior most closely resembles a tornado coming off the edge with his speed rush moves. There are countless occasions on tape where the lineman facing him couldn’t even get a hand on Latu due to his quickness. This speaks to his use of hands, which contributes to his refined pass-rush technique. Many consider Latu to be the best day-one, pro-ready rusher available. Due to concerns about his medical history, he may slip into the later teens, but Latu’s talent is top 10 worthy. 

3. Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama 

Our first non-pass rusher and defensive back on the list is Terrion Arnold. He didn’t have as much hype as teammate Kool-Aid McKinistry coming into the year, but that’s changed. Arnold possesses good size for an NFL cornerback and showed that he can play up to the competition. He has a knack for pass breakups, disrupting good receiver prospects like Malik Nabers, Adonai Mitchell, and Ladd McConkey. He’s sticky in coverage and reads the quarterbacks’ eyes well. Occasionally he’ll get a bit too physical in coverage and draw penalties, but that can be fixed. As the top cornerback in the class, Arnold should go in the range of 11-16. 

4. Jared Verse, DE, Florida State

There’s not much separating the top pass rushers in the class and that includes Jared Verse. The Florida State Seminole has showcased his never-ending motor for two straight years now. What stands out most about him is a combination of finesse and power, similar to Dallas Turner. Verse’s bend has allowed him to become a dominant force with his swim pass rush technique, which he surely worked on in the offseason. He was also able to bully lighter offensive tackles with his power this past year. With 18 total sacks over the last two years, Verse looks like a lock to go top 20.  

5. Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo 

The last player on the list hugely helped his stock during this year’s Senior Bowl. While he demonstrated elite traits during his time at Toledo, the biggest question was if he could do it again against better competition. Mitchell answered that call last week. The Toledo prospect could make an immediate impact for a team as a rookie starting cornerback. He could easily have the best ball skills out of any defensive back in this class. He’s set to perform extremely well during the combine and show elite athleticism. It’s rumored he can run around a 4.35 and bench 225 pounds 21 times. If so, he’ll have NFL scouts drooling. Mitchell is expected to be a top-20 pick. 

Main Image: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

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