No Longer a Sleeper, Payton Turner has Talked to Eagles Multiple Times

The Houston edge rusher has the size NFL teams love and has likely made himself into a second-round draft pick
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Payton Turner said after Houston’s Pro Day availability on Friday that he has talked to all 32 teams, then rattled off seven teams he said he has spoken to at least three times.

He remembered one of the teams being the Eagles, though.

"I’d say the teams that stand out and have impressed me more than some others would be Jacksonville, the Browns, Saints, Cowboys, Texans, Chargers, (and) I’ve talked to Philly," said Turner. "I’d say the list goes one. That’s off the top of my head those are teams that stand out more than others. I’ve talked to those teams multiple times, at least three times."

If Turner was considered a sleeper in the 2021 NFL Draft, there are many teams wide awake on him.

“It’s funny because I tell you these teams, but everybody tells me it’s the ones that don’t talk to you that draft you,” said Turner.

Turner has the size and versatility NFL teams like. He’s a 6-5½, 270-pound defensive end who can move inside to tackle, too.

“I’m a violent edge,” he said. “I got the length so I can stress (offensive tackles) with the quickness, and I’m big enough to bull rush them, long arm them.

“I have a lot of versatility (and) I know a lot of coaches are high on that. I’ve played a year and a half on the edge and had some pretty good production and showed versatility along with being able to rush inside and outside. I see myself as an edge player in the league. I see myself as a successful player.”

The Eagles would like to replenish the line, and Turner could fit. Thing is, he may not be around in the third round. Not with so many teams hot on his tail.

“You hope for the best,” said Turner when asked by SI.com’s Eagle Maven if he expects to be drafted in the first two days, when rounds one through three are held. 

“You don’t know how everything’s going to play out come April 29, April 30, day one, day two, but I’d imagine I’ll be up there. We’ll see how everything plays out. You never know.”

Back on March 9, NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah called Turner “an interesting player,” adding, however, that when the Eagles pick in the second round, at No. 37 overall, “it may be a little bit early … but he kind of factors in there.”

Pro Football Focus wrote, “Turner has some impressive bend for a man his size and is capable of playing anywhere on the line. Some may be concerned about his small snaps sample size and the fact that most of those reps were against low-level competition, but he shouldn’t slide any further than the middle of Day 2.”

Turner played just five games in his senior year, when he struggled with a calf strain, contracted the coronavirus, and the Cougars had to cancel some games due to the pandemic.

“I think in the sample size, I’ve showed a good amount of what I can do,” said Turner. “Obviously not everything I can do, but I think the coaches will see my potential and everything I’ve done. I’ve been productive. I don’t see it really being an issue.”

Turner had five sacks last year in those limited games and 10.5 for loss. He had a total of 4.5 in his three previous seasons at Houston.

As a freshman at Houston, Turner was coming off a torn ACL in the second game of his high school senior season, an injury that saw some of the schools and coaches interested in him, back off. Houston remained in his corner and he decided to stay in his hometown and play for the Cougars.

Prior to the ACL tear, Turner was undecided about whether he would play football or basketball.

He tore the ligament playing football but continued playing. More than a week later, during a pickup basketball game after football practice, he felt something slip in the knee.

“I was like, that’s not right,” said Turner. “They told me I was running around with a torn ACL for a week and a half.”

Turner weighed 220 pounds in high school, got his weight up to 240 as a freshman at Houston, played at 290 as a sophomore, got it back down to 280 as a junior then 270 this past season.

“I got those first two years to learn how to really be violent, not scared of contact,” said Turner. “Playing four high and three-technique inside then transfer that violence out to the edge and getting better coming off the ball. I feel I developed into a really good football player.”

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.