2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Edge Payton Turner, Houston

The Giants are almost certain to pick an edge rusher in this draft. Could Houston's Payton Turner be that guy?
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EDGE PAYTON TURNER 

Height: 6'5"
Weight: 268 lbs.
Class: Senior
School: Houston 


Former two-star recruit out of Westside High School in Houston, Texas. He injured his knee during his senior season of high school and missed the season, which led to him being underrecruited. Even so, he still received some Power-5 interest, but not many scholarship offers other than Houston. Turner grew into his frame over time at the University of Houston; he was recruited at 217 pounds.

Had 114 tackles, 23.5 for a loss, and 9.5 sacks while playing for Houston. He had 67 total pressures through his time in college as well. He was Second Team All-Athletic American Conference in 2020 when he had 25 tackles, five sacks, and 10.5 tackles for a loss.

Turner had an impressive pro day as well, showing intriguing athletic traits and measurables. Had an 84 ⅛” wing span, ran a 4.25 short shuttle (showing excellent agility), jumped 35.5” in the vertical, did 23 reps on the bench, and ran a 6.98 3-cone drill at his size. That is wildly impressive stuff.

Notables

Missed his senior season of high school with the knee injury I referenced earlier. He also missed two games in 2020 with knee and hand injuries, as well as a positive COVID-19 test.

Traits

A tall, very long, 4-3 base end or 3-4 5-Technique with limited snaps dropping into coverage. Turner combines a solid first step burst with great explosiveness on contact to move blockers off the ball and control the point of attack with inside leverage, length, and quick disengagement moves.

As a run defender, he’s solid; however, he did struggle on down blocks and other angle-type blocks when his attention wasn’t fully geared towards the blocker, and his pad level can rise a bit due to his stature. He wasn’t always consistent with using his length to lockout, and he sometimes let blockers get chest to chest with him. Only solid absorbing contact--I wish this trait was a bit more distinguished.

Turner showed a lot of versatility for Houston and aligned all over the defensive front. Was tasked to set the edge, slant inside, rush the arc, and showed adequate countering ability to adapt to each responsibility. I wish his overall center of gravity were slightly lower, albeit, up the arc, he could get low and dip, showing impressive bend.

He possesses the ability to convert speed to power with a good bull rush move and keep his hat down and generate power from his lower half. He stresses the arc and uses good stab/chop/rip moves to attack the half-man relationship and bend through contact at the top of the arc. He makes initial contact with his length and uses a swipe move to shed the lineman’s contact.

He uses very good change of direction ability and agility to use jab fakes and shoot in the opposite direction to put offensive linemen into precarious situations. He does the same in the running games to shoot the B-gap from the outside to plug rushing lanes. He has a twitch, can use a bit of development, but his pass-rushing upside is very high.

Overall, Turner is a pass rusher with many physical and athletic traits who is just starting to put it all together. He can stand to get a bit stronger as a run defender, but he’ll make splash plays--he just needs to lower his center of gravity. Turner could be a great get for the Giants on day two, and this coaching staff’s development can unlock his immense potential.


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