Former Super Bowl champion explains why DT Jer’Zhan Newton is a ‘steal’ for Commanders

Former Super Bowl champ: DT Jer'Zhan Newton is a 'steal' for Commanders

Jer’Zhan Newton. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton, viewed by many as a first-day pick, fell to Washington Commanders at No. 36 in Friday’s second round. Despite concerns over injury and the level of competition Newton faced, Super Bowl champion and NFL Network analyst Michael Robinson thinks he’ll be a steal.

Robinson, who has a unique perspective on Newton, having covered him in college, explained why he’s so high on the former Illinois product.

“He’s a playmaker at the defensive tackle position,” Robinson said. “He’s not a guy that’s just going to hold the point and just get in the way. He’s going to shed an offensive tackle and still be able to make the play in the backfield.”

Newton had surgery in January to repair a Jones fracture suffered in the middle of the 2023 season. While that may have contributed to him falling into the second round of the draft, he told reporters on Friday that he “wasn’t worried” about his status moving forward.

Despite battling through a broken foot, Newton still had a productive season, finishing with 52 tackles (8.5 for loss) and 7.5 sacks to win the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award. Meanwhile, he’s posted 102 pressures since 2022, which is more than any other DT in college football, per Pro Football Focus.

“This dude can be triple-teamed, he can be double-teamed. He has a motor that just does not stop,” Robinson said. “Heavy hands. Great hand placement. Understands how to disengage from offensive guards, tackles, centers and things like that. He’s a playmaker at the defensive tackle position.”

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