The 2023 NFL Draft was flush with defensive difference-makers like Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Fans should not expect that caliber of defensive player to come out of the 2024 NFL Draft but there is still a lot of talent that can fill needs for teams across the league.
Here is an All-Defense Team comprised solely of prospects eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft:
Edge: Dallas Turner, Alabama
The mission was to pick two of three from UCLA's Laiatu Latu, Florida State's Jared Verse and Alabama's Dallas Turner. Turner got the nod over Latu because he is still 20 years old and a medical check will be important in determining where the latter is drafted.
Turner applied pressure on 19.8% of pass rush snaps, which was the fifth-highest, this season, according to TruMedia. Latu is actually second in the same category (21.9%). Turner finished the year with eight sacks. He can still grow into his body and become more physically controlling at the line of scrimmage but there is no denying his speed and quickness.
Edge: Jared Verse, Florida State
Opposite Turner, the plan was to add a more powerful prospect who should be able to contain the edge and provide more of an impact in the run game. Verse had the 18th-highest pressure rate this season (18.1%). He ended the regular season on a high note with 2.5 sacks during rivalry week against Florida.
DT: Jer'Zhan Newton, Illinois
Newton is a high-motor player who plays to the whistle. He builds speed quickly and uses quickness to shoot gaps and move the pocket. His 44 quarterback pressures were tied as the most by an interior defender this season, according to TruMedia.
DT: T'Vondre Sweat, Texas
There is not a clear DT2 in the class right now. There are a wide range of skill sets that teams could consider at the position. Sweat is 6-foot-4, north of 360 pounds. He is going to eat up space, blockers and allow Turner, Verse and Newton to create pressure on this defensive line.
LB: Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson
Trotter Jr. has a shorter frame with a thicker lower body build. He does most of his work in the box. The son of the former NFL linebacker has great lateral quickness and change of direction. The linebacker has good eyes to read and diagnose leaks out of the backfield. Trotter plays with a high motor and has not shown much diversity in his pass rush plan to be more than a spot rusher.
LB: Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M
Cooper is a well-built linebacker who stuffed the stat sheet this season. His most impressive trait is his grip strength. When he gets his hands on the ball carrier, the play is over. The linebacker is able to build speed quickly and does a good job playing sideline to sideline. He is more trustworthy in coverage than his All-Defense counterpart.
CB: Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama
Alabama head coach Nick Saban has always placed high expectations on his secondary and McKinstry is someone whom he trusted as a true freshman. Opposing quarterbacks completed 40% of their passes against him this season for 169 yards and a touchdown, according to TruMedia. McKinstry has good size and speed to translate to the next level.
CB: Nate Wiggins, Clemson
Wiggins allowed 40% of pass attempts this season for 176 yards and a touchdown, according to TruMedia. His 36.8 defensive passer rating was No. 66 in college football. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, the Atlanta native is arguably the best man coverage cornerback eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft. His 15.6% missed-tackle rate is a concern as he translates to the next level where defensive backs are being stressed more horizontally and being asked to make plays in space.
CB: Josh Newton, TCU
Newton is a balanced cornerback who can carry routes up the boundary or across the field. He often gets his eyes back to the ball and that leads to good awareness in space. The Louisiana native has seven interceptions over the course of his career with the Horned Frogs. Newton is a physical player who is willing to play downhill in run support as well.
S: Tyler Nubin, Minnesota
The Illinois native is among the leaders in almost every statistical category. Among players with at least 200 coverage snaps, opposing quarterbacks had the lowest completion percentage (23.8%) against Nubin this season, according to TruMedia. His 19.0 forced completion percentage was the 15th highest across college football. Nubin is a really instinctual player who capitalizes on mistakes, as evidenced by his 12 interceptions over the past three seasons, including five as a senior.
S: Kamren Kinchens, Miami
Kinchens is not afraid to fly downhill and put a big hit on someone but his specialty has been making plays in coverage. Over the past two seasons, the Miami native has 11 total interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. He can do a better job of coming to balance in space and making form tackles. According to TruMedia, he missed 13.2% of tackle attempts last season, which is average for defensive backs with at least 200 coverage snaps.