GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.
No. 22: G/T Billy Turner (6-5, 310, seventh season, North Dakota State)
General manager Brian Gutekunst took chances on four players during his blockbuster free agency in 2019. In four seasons, Za’Darius Smith started 16 games and recorded 18.5 sacks. In four seasons, Preston Smith averaged about six sacks while benefitting from all the attention paid to Ryan Kerrigan. In four seasons, Adrian Amos had three interceptions. In six seasons, Billy Turner had never won a starting job out of training camp.
Gutekunst nailed it on the Smith Bros. and Amos. They were driving forces of Green Bay’s 13-win resurgence last season. Turner, however, remains an expensive question mark.
Turner, with 25 starts for Miami and Denver since entering the league as a third-round pick by the Dolphins in 2014, inked an eye-popping four-year, $28 million contract. He’s intelligent and athletic but got beat far too often in the passing game and was overpowered at times in the running game. Of 63 guards to play at least 50 percent of the snaps, he finished 58th in PFF’s pass-protection metric with six sacks, six hits and 45 total pressures. That pressure count was the worst in the league among guards. Sports Info Solutions charged him with 12 blown blocks in the run game, fourth-most among all guards. After a low cap hit in 2019, he’ll count a bit more than $8 million the next three years.
Off the field, Turner is a man of fashion and positive energy. He started the Kind Energy Foundation, with a mission statement “To advance awareness and education by financially developing and supporting organizations whose focus is to create a future where compassion, kindness and acceptance are the foundation of society.” In December, he donated 700 coats to families in Green Bay and his home state of Minnesota.
“My big thing is positivity,” Turner said late in the season. “We live in a negative world with a lot of negative stuff that's always going on and sometimes it's hard for people – depending on the situation that they’re in – to see through things. To see the light, especially when a lot of people go through adversity, all different levels of severity, of course.
“But a lot of people go through ups and downs and bad times, but just to bring positivity, starting with the youth, the next generation, the people who are going to be brought up and be the next leaders of this country, the leaders of this world. Being able to promote as much positivity through them, giving back and just to promote a good, positive mindset with them that will hopefully in some kind of way change the world.”
Turner’s father, Maurice, was a 12th-round pick by the Vikings in 1983. He played in 23 games for Minnesota in 1984 and 1985 before finishing the 1985 season with three games for Green Bay. The 2020 season will begin at Minnesota on Sept. 13.
“I grew up in Minnesota and grew up watching ever since I was little, so it’ll be cool to play in it,” Turner said before last year’s Week 2 game against the Vikings. “That being said, it’s another game. It’s a 0-0 mentality. We’ve got to win.”
Why he’s got a chance: Turner, a bargain last year but with cap charges topping $8 million for each of the next three seasons, will go into camp as the starting right guard. The Packers are perhaps hedging their bets, though, with veteran Lane Taylor returning on a reworked one-year deal. Regardless, Turner’s athleticism and experience, coupled with the lack of experience among the team’s backup offensive tackles, could make Turner the man on the move in case of emergency.
“It doesn’t matter what position I play, as long as I’m out there and I’m able to play and help this organization win games, it really doesn’t matter the position,” Turner said before last season. “I think I can flourish at any position that they let me play, as long as I’m there for a couple of games. I’m only going to get better and better so whatever position that is, and whenever that happens, I’m OK with that.”