NFL Draft Prospect Spotlight: Payton Turner

Payton Turner of the Houston Cougars broke out in a limited sample size last season, and that makes him intriguing in the NFL Draft and to the Raiders

After going over a highly rated slot cornerback in Elijah Molden, we move back to the defensive line by going to Houston defensive end Payton Turner.

Not that highly touted entering college and early in his career with the Cougars, Turner made evaluators take notice with his production in 2020.

In only five games, Turner set career highs in sacks and tackles for losses with five and 10.5 respectively.

That performance led Pro Football Focus (PFF) to rank him as the 11th best edge defender in college football last season.

Turner brings versatility in his 6-6, 270-pound frame, having been a starter both on the edge and at tackle during his time at Houston.

Having that experience gives him a potent combination of explosiveness and strength that defensive coordinators can move all along the defensive line.

Turner isn’t considered a knock-out prospect though.

Teams might question the level of his competition considering that he played at a Group of Five schools instead of the Power Five.

There’s also the fact that prior to his five-game breakout this season, Turner hadn’t previously put up comparable numbers.

Teams could take that information and view Turner's breakout this season as an exception.

On the other hand, they could look at him as an ascending, versatile pass rusher that has his best football ahead of him.

The Las Vegas Raiders certainly need more players like that considering their defensive struggles in 2020.

Even if they pick a defensive lineman in the first round, a player like Turner could be of great interest on day two of the draft. 

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