As the 2024  NFL Scouting Combine unfolds, the spotlight intensifies on the top defensive talents making their way to the league. With an eye on refining their defensive line, the Detroit Lions are seeking out those who could don the Honolulu Blue and Silver with distinction. This year’s participants include a mix of well-known top prospects and hidden gems.

Among the standout talents are three top defensive lineman prospects whose college careers have set them apart as elite defenders. Byron Murphy II from Texas, Jared Verse from Florida State, and Dallas Turner from Alabama each bring a unique set of skills and attributes that have positioned them as top 20 draft picks. Their performances at the combine will be critical in solidifying their draft status.

However, the combine is also a stage for the underdogs who are poised to surprise and exceed expectations. Players like Javon Solomon from Troy, Michael Hall Jr. from Ohio State, and Mohamed Kamara from Colorado State may not have the same level of pre-combine hype, but their potential is undeniable. These sleepers, with impressive college stats and the hunger to ascend, are vying to climb the draft boards with standout performances in Indianapolis.

The defensive linemen and linebackers will be evaluated on-field starting at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. Here are 11 prospects for Detroit Lions fans to keep an eye on:

Top Defensive Lineman Prospects:

Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

  • Projected Round in Draft: 1st (Top 20)
  • Measurements: 6-1, 308 lbs.
  • Comparison: Ed Oliver (

Notes: Byron Murphy II is an explosive talent with the skillset to excel in various defensive schemes. Renowned for his quickness and power, Murphy adeptly navigates through gaps, showcasing strength in both pass-rushing and defending against the run. Despite less-than-ideal size, his tenacity and technique compensate, making him a coveted asset for teams seeking interior disruption.

Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

  • Projected Round in Draft: 1st (Top 20)
  • Measurements: 6-4, 260 lbs.
  • Comparison: LaMarr Woodley (

Notes: Jared Verse is an athletic edge defender known for his ability to disrupt the quarterback. His versatility and explosion off the ball allowed him to excel at both Albany and Florida State. Verse combines speed, agility, and technical experience to excel in various defensive formats, making him a top pick for franchises targeting a dynamic edge presence.

Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

  • Projected Round in Draft: 1st (Top 20)
  • Measurements: 6-4, 245 lbs.
  • Comparison: Brian Burns (

Notes: Dallas Turner brings a perfect blend of length and athleticism, essential for an edge rusher’s success at the next level. While he’s still refining his technique, Turner’s potential remains untapped, evidenced by his rapid development at Alabama. His adaptability and growth suggest a bright future, ideally in schemes that maximize his natural burst and agility.


THREE Sleeper Defensive Lineman Picks:

Javon Solomon, EDGE, Troy

  • Projected Round in Draft: Rounds 3-5
  • Measurements: 6-2, 245 lbs.
  • Notes: Solomon’s track record at Troy is one of high productivity and impact, particularly in the pass-rush game. He led the FBS in sacks in 2023, with a total of 16. His ability to navigate the backfield and create havoc has made him a standout player, suggesting he has the potential to translate his collegiate success to the professional level. With an impressive record of 183 total tackles, 49.5 tackles for loss, 33 sacks, and four forced fumbles, Solomon has consistently demonstrated his ability to disrupt plays and contribute significantly to his team’s defensive success.

Skill Set Analysis:

  • Potential:
    • Possesses powerful lower body and bend that enhances his speed around the edge.
    • Demonstrates a quick understanding of offensive schemes, allowing for effective containment and penetration.
    • Utilizes a variety of hand moves to disengage from blockers efficiently.
    • Skillful in leveraging counter moves to navigate through interior pockets.
  • Question marks:
    • Despite his production, Solomon’s size and length are not ideal for the traditional NFL edge role (they said the same thing about James Houston). 
    • His engagement technique needs refinement, particularly against larger offensive tackles who can exploit his shorter stride and reach.

Michael Hall Jr., DT, Ohio State

  • Projected Round in Draft: Rounds 2-3
  • Measurements: 6-2, 280 lbs.
  • Notes: Playing for a high-profile program like Ohio State, Hall demonstrated the ability to perform at a high level across various defensive schemes. Hall’s performance, especially noted during events like the Senior Bowl, highlights his readiness to compete against top talent. His adaptability and effectiveness in multiple roles on the defensive line speak to his technical skill and football IQ, positioning him as a potentially versatile and impactful player in the NFL.

Skill Set Analysis:

  • Potential:
    • Utilizes savvy technique to maintain position and leverage against double-teams.
    • His ability to disengage from blocks is accentuated by his use of strength and twitchy hands.
    • Hall’s agility and footwork allow him to execute complex rush strategies, targeting offensive vulnerabilities.
    • Lateral quickness enable him to apply consistent pressure in the backfield.
  • Question marks:
    • Hall’s size might limit his effectiveness inside against the larger, more powerful NFL linemen.
    • While he can engage effectively, shedding blocks quickly remains an area for improvement.
    • Needs to enhance his ability to maneuver sharply in confined spaces, crucial for breaking through at the next level.

Mohamed Kamara, EDGE, Colorado State

  • Projected Round in Draft: Rounds 3-5
  • Measurements: 6-1, 250 lbs.
  • Overview: As the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, Kamara’s accolades and statistical success at Colorado State underscore a career marked by consistent pressure and disruption, making him a potential threat on the edge in the NFL. His knack for generating sacks and tackles for loss indicates a player with a high motor and the potential to become a valuable asset to an NFL pass rush. He finished his career in Fort Collins with 45.5 TFL’s, five forced fumbles and 30.5 sacks. 

Skill Set Analysis:

  • Potential:
    • He effectively employs an upfield burst to establish his inside moves, keeping linemen off balance.
    • His use of hand techniques and power transitions facilitates his edge penetration, allowing him to breach protections consistently.
    • Despite his frame, he demonstrates the leverage and strength necessary to challenge double-team blocks.
  • Question marks:
    • Relies heavily on his power, potentially limiting his versatility against more adept blockers.
    • Balance and technique need refining to prevent overextension and enhance his edge bending.

Others to keep an eye on:

  • Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri
    • Projected round in draft: 1-3
    • 6-5, 290 lbs. 
  • Gabriel Murphy, EDGE, UCLA
    • Projected round in draft: 3-5
    • 6-3, 260 lbs.
  • Marshawn Kneeland, EDGE, Western Michigan
    • Projected round in draft: 2-4
    • 6-3, 275 lbs.
  • Jonah Ellis, EDGE, Utah
    • Projected round in draft: 2-3
    • 6-2, 246 lbs.
    • Son of Luther Ellis, former Lions DT/DE from 1995-2003
  • Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan
    • Projected round in draft: 1-2
    • 6-3, 305 lbs.
  • DeWayne Carter, DT, Duke
    • Projected in draft: 3-4
    • 6-3, 305 lbs.


For more from our Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21


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Original Photo Credit: © Aaron E. Martinez – USA TODAY Sports

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By Published On: February 28th, 2024Categories: Detroit Lions, NFL

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