NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: Highest-graded interior defender in every category

2TAC0YR Texas defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) during an NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday Nov. 11, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (Matt Patterson via AP)

TexasByron Murphy II dominated rushing the interior: The former Longhorns defensive tackle utilizes exceptional strength and explosion as an interior rusher, allowing him to capture four of PFF’s six key pass-rushing grade facets.

Northern Iowa’s Khristian Boyd makes waves in 2023: Interest in the FCS standout has grown in recent months, with Boyd profiling as a capable rotational defender, displayed in part by his class-leading pass-rush grade on early downs.

Draft and trade for yourself: Try PFF's Mock Draft Simulator — trade picks and players and mock for your favorite NFL team.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Click here for more draft tools:

2024 Mock Draft Simulator | 2024 Big Board | 2024 Draft Guide
2024 Player Profiles | 2024 Mock Drafts | NCAA Premium Stats

NFL Draft season is coming to a close, with the NFL combine and individual pro days in the rearview. The big day is just a few weeks away.

Every 2024 NFL Draft prospect brings a unique skill set to the table, in the hopes of having their name called. We’re breaking down the draft class’ best players in each and every facet, for every position, to get a more informed view of the NFL hopefuls.

These are PFF’s highest-graded Interior defender prospects at each key grading facet in the 2024 NFL Draft. Click below for other positions.

True Pass-Rush Grade: Byron Murphy II, Texas (91.5)

As one of PFF’s top-15 prospects, Murphy's strength and balance make him a destructive interior pass rusher, something he showed in spades on true pass rushes — PFF’s most stable pass-rush metric. The former Longhorn generated an impressive 21 pressures on true pass sets, stemming from a class-leading 29.5% pass-rush win rate.

No Play-Action Pass-Rush Grade: Byron Murphy II, Texas (92.1)

While Murphy profiles as a true three-down contributor on the interior, he’s even better when unburdened by sifting through run action. On snaps without play action, Murphy amassed 38 total pressures on 180 snaps for an incredible 21.1% pressure rate, a rate more than 7 percentage points higher than that of any other interior prospect in this year’s class.

Early-Down Pass-Rush Grade: Khristian Boyd, Northern Iowa (88.2)

Boyd showcased his talents in the pre-draft process with an excellent showing at the Shrine Bowl, garnering attention from several franchises in need of all-around interior depth. Boyd was particularly effective at Northern Iowa on first and second downs when rushing the passer, where he racked up 31 pressures, seven of which resulted in sacks, both of which lead all interior prospects.

Late-Down Pass-Rush Grade: Byron Murphy II, Texas (91.4)

Murphy was far and away the most effective late-down interior pass rusher among this year’s prospects, earning a PFF grade more than 13 points higher on the grading scale than the next-best prospect. On third and fourth downs, the Texas standout generated 18 pressures, four of which went for sacks, resulting in a class-leading 13.1 pass-rushing productivity rate.

Red-Zone Pass-Rush Grade: Byron Murphy II, Texas (91.1)

The All-Big-12 interior defender plays with power and violence, which seems to ramp up when opposing offenses enter the red zone. Murphy finished as the only defensive tackle in the class to surpass an 80.0 pass-rush grade in the red zone. His phenomenal 27.3% pass-rush win rate paced all interior prospects by nearly 10 percentage points, with his teammate T'Vondre Sweat being the only other prospect to exceed 16%.

Pass-Rush Grade with 3 or Fewer Rushers: Brandon Dorlus, Oregon (78.2)

Dorlus brings positional versatility along the defensive line with the experience to match, which allowed him to excel when outmanned on rushes. On plays with three or fewer rushers, the Oregon pass rusher contributed a 25% pass-rush win rate and a 12.5 pass-rush productivity score.

Click here to see Brandon Dorlus' 2024 NFL Draft profile.

Early-Down Run-Defense Grade: T’Vondre Sweat, Texas (91.9)

The massive Sweat, a PFF All-American, is a force in the run game, utilizing his enormous frame to fill gaps and absorb double teams with virtually no trouble. The 365-pound interior powerhouse racked up 10 tackles for loss or no gain on early downs in 2023, totaling just 0.64 yards of depth per tackle. Perhaps more importantly, he seldomly erred, earning a negative grade on just 4.3% of his run-defense snaps, the lowest rate in the class.

Late-Down Run-Defense Grade: Kris Jenkins, Michigan (81.5)

Jenkins may be the strongest pound-for-pound player in the class, which shows up fantastically when stuffing up running lanes. On third and fourth downs, the Michigan product excelled at fitting the run, finishing his final college season as the only interior prospect with a 25.0%-plus positive run snap rate and a sub-10% negatively graded play rate.

Red-Zone Run-Defense Grade: Mekhi Wingo, LSU (87.2)

Despite being on the smaller side for the position, Wingo wins with quickness and hand speed, which allowed him to be incredibly disruptive when backed up in the red zone. The LSU defensive tackle disengages blockers with ease, which allowed him to rack up a sky-high 37.1% positively graded play rate, compared to just 2.9% on the negative side.

Safety worth way more than 2 points. Help protect your family with fast, free will.
NFL Draft Featured Tools

Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit