For the second consecutive year the New Orleans Saints have made a head scratching move in the opening round of the NFL Draft. Last season, many were blindsided by the selection of Michigan Interior Offensive Lineman Cesar Ruiz. However, last night may have been an even bigger surprise with the selection of DE Payton Turner, a player who some ranked as a Day 2 or Day 3 selection.
Saints Head Coach Sean Payton had wonderful things to say about the newest member of the Black and Gold. ""We felt this player was in a different category. We felt this guy was in a different ballpark with his traits, his makeup, his skill set that was different." Sean Payton also called Turner a "high energy player."
While it may have been a shock to NFL fans across the nation that Turner was selected this high the young man was not too surprised. "I figured I was in the range of 20-40." he told local media following his selection. Turner, who only started 4 games in 2020-21, is "ecstatic" to be joining the Saints saying "I'm excited to to get over to NOLA and ask that 'Who Dat?!'."
Despite the clear excitement from the Houston Edge Rusher and faith Sean Payton has in his most recent first-round selection the jury is still out amongst fans and media on the 28th overall pick. The Saints News Krewe shares their initial Draft Grades, less than 24 hours after the selection, below.
If we’ve learned anything, it's not totally fair to have such a quick gut reaction on a draft pick for the Saints. In fairness, this pick was something that needed to be slept on. The top corner options were off the table. The wide receivers were there, so was the top defensive tackle, and at least one appealing linebacker. The fact New Orleans took a pass rusher didn't make immediate sense, not when you have Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport as your staples, not when you are expecting more out of Carl Granderson, not when you signed Tanoh Kpassagnon and then took a flier on Noah Spence. Where everyone is struggling with the pick of Payton Turner is that others had higher edge rushers graded ahead of him.
Does he have talent? Absolutely. Every player that comes out and gets drafted does. However, the knock is coming from Houston and that he may still be a bit raw going to the next level. He has versatility to his game that the Saints covet, but the million dollar question lies in what he will do against NFL-level talent. That’s what concerns fans most. You probably cannot have enough pass rushers at your disposal, and you can see how excited Turner is to have an opportunity. As disappointing as the pick may have been, especially for those who considered it a reach, this is one of those situations where you can’t fully pass immediate judgement until you see how things play out. However, given the current information and such, the gut reaction grade for me would be average at best.
I certainly hope I'm wrong, but I don't get the value here. Turner looks like he can be a good player, but hasn't been consistent against the run. He was projected to be a late Day 2 pick, At Best, in an extremely weak defensive end class. Meanwhile the team still has enormous holes at cornerback and linebacker with several prospects still on the board. In a division that has Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Cameron Brate, DJ Moore, and Robby Anderson.
Another year, another surprising pick by the New Orleans Saints. Since the 2015 NFL Draft, New Orleans has selected an Offensive or Defensive Lineman with their first-selection in every draft. So in all honesty maybe this pick should not be a surprise. As I said last night on the Saints News Network Live Draft Show, Cam Jordan is not getting any younger and is coming off of a down season statistically by his standards. The selection of Turner could be a pick with the aging Cam Jordan in mind but a team does not typically draft a player in round one to not have an immediate impact.
With more glaring needs than the EDGE position in my book I initially graded this pick as a C- but I like the potential of this kid. He has tremendous size, a high motor, and based off of his interview last night, WANTS to soak up as much as he can from Cam Jordan and the Saints coaching staff.
I loved his enthusiasm, you can see his love for the game on the tape. But being a surprise first-round pick (that Saints Twitter did not particularly take kindly to) is not easy and he will have a target on his back from day one.
All in all, I like the potential and his elite PFF pass rushing grade but I felt like the Saints had bigger needs.
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