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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Payton Turner

  • The Draft Network
  • January 13, 2021
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Payton Turner suffered a knee injury that kept him off the field as a high school senior which limited his recruiting options. While there was interest, the only major school to offer him a scholarship was Houston. He came to Houston at around 215 pounds before he reached 290 early in his career and then trimmed down to around 270 by the end of his career. The Cougars played him all across the defensive line, even as a standup outside linebacker at times. At the next level, Turner is best suited to play 4-3 defensive end but also has the length needed to serve as a 5-technique in a 3-4 front. The best components of Turner’s game are his length, physicality, power, hand combatting skills, and motor. Those traits give him appeal as a pass rusher and run defender. With that said, he needs to clean up his stance, release from his stance, pad level, processing skills, and develop more rush variety. Turner is a versatile defender that has the ability to develop into a meaningful starter. With that said, development is needed and he may not contribute much right away early in his career. 

Ideal Role: 4-3 base end or 3-4 5-technique that gets chances to rush on the interior on long and late downs.

Scheme Fit: Any.


Written by: Joe Marino 

Games watched: Tulane (2020), BYU (2020), UCF (2020), Memphis (2020) 

Best Game Studied: Tulane (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: BYU (2020) 

First-Step Explosiveness: Turner isn’t overly explosive out of his stance and I think that stems from the stance itself. He is often wobbly getting set and there is a notable difference in the way he aligns on the left and right side. Houston often had him in a two-point stance, which introduced even more variance. He has a tendency to coil and gather himself before exploding out of his stance and his initial steps tend to be choppy and he doesn’t gain much depth by step three. Once he gets moving there is a good amount of quickness present but there are some technical tweaks that could really make him more effective firing off the ball. Given his inconsistency in establishing a half-man relationship as a pass rusher, the issues with his stance and release are relevant. 

Flexibility: He is more loose than expected for his frame but he won’t be confused as bendy. He has some challenges diminishing his surface area as he works through corners. With that said, he does rush with good tilt, lean, and core strength, which helps him press tighter angles. 

Hand Counters: Turner’s hands are always busy and he competes to keep his pads clean. He does well to swipe and keep his hands engaged. He has an effective push-pull move in addition to club-rip and club-swim combos. He has room to grow but there are some notable flashes in his hand fighting ability. 

Length: Turner has vines for arms and does well to play with extension. His heavy punch, busy hands, and length lead to consistent separation and he is rarely velcroed to blockers. He does well to get his hands in throwing lanes and finish outside of his frame. 

Hand Power: Turner has some notable pop in his punch and he’s capable of dictating reps with his hand power and grip strength. When he wins with first contact, he controls the snap. He has the power needed to clear his pads. 

Run Defending: Houston moving Turner around so frequently throughout his career has impacted his consistency with processing and identifying blocking schemes when defending the run. While he has plenty of power at the point of attack, he has a tendency to play tall and work overtime to maintain his run fit. His length, size, and power are notable assets against the run, but he has room to grow in terms of block recognition and how to respond to run schemes.  

Effort: Turner has one of the hottest motors of any player in this year’s class. He gives elite effort in pursuit and always rallies to the football. He keeps battling throughout every rep and makes plenty of plays just based on his effort. 

Football IQ: Truth be told, since Turner’s junior year of high school, he hasn’t played much football and was moved around quite a bit at Houston which never enabled him to settle in at any one spot. There are some basic elements to his game that need to improve when it comes to playing with leverage and getting out of his stance effectively in addition to some processing concerns as a run defender. 

Lateral Mobility: Despite Houston playing him a two-point stance with some regularity, Turner really isn’t an ideal candidate for much work in space. He has some tightness throughout his frame that shows up when changing directions and flowing toward the sideline. He plays with elite effort and has tremendous length, which helps overcome some deficiencies when it comes to lateral mobility. 

Versatility: Turner has appeal as a base end in a 4-3 defense and as a 5-technique in a 3-4 front. He has positive traits as both a run defender and pass rusher and he should get opportunities to rush interior gaps on long and late downs. 

Prospect Comparison: Emmanuel Ogbah (2016 NFL Draft, Cleveland Browns) 


TDN Consensus: 76.50/100

Kyle Crabbs: 77.00/100

Joe Marino: 78.00/100

Jordan Reid: 76.00/100

Drae Harris: 75.00/100

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