2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Payton Turner

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Payton Turner

by April 12, 2021 2 comments

There are many occasions of players having a strong pre-draft process that sends their draft stock soaring. A great example of that this year is Houston’s edge rusher, Payton Turner. He had the best season of his collegiate career in 2020 despite playing in only five games. After the season, Turner went to the Senior Bowl, where he put forth a solid few days of practice before an injury put him out for the remainder of the week. He originally went to Houston as a defensive lineman, where he played 4i and three-tech until his junior season, where he made the switch to playing on the edge. Turner has a bunch of tools at his disposal that makes him a very intriguing prospect with a ton of upside in the draft.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Turner and talk about his pre-draft process and how he has gotten to this point. You can find the interview here.

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports

Player Bio

Name: Payton Turner    

Jersey: #98

Position: Edge Rusher

School: Houston

Class: Senior

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 270 lbs

Explosiveness (7/10)

Houston deployed Turner in a lot of ways, including both two and three-point stances. Unfortunately, Turner wasn’t able to gather much of an advantage when he was in a two-point stance, as he isn’t a pure speed rusher. With him being thrown all across the defensive line in different roles, Turner never had much of a chance to refine his explosiveness when the ball was snapped.

Flexibility (8/10)

Turner is surprisingly flexible given his tall stature. He doesn’t have elite bend, but he isn’t a slouch by any means. Turner can slide by the tackle’s outside shoulder with a bit of a lean underneath and work his way to the quarterback.

Length (9.5/10)

Turner has elite length. He uses it to his advantage and is rarely ever controlled by a lineman. Turner uses his long arms to help him and uses them to push off using his powerful hands.

Run Defense (7.75/10)

Turner gets a great push off the ball at the line of scrimmage. The thing that hurts him here is the fact that he has some struggles with recognizing some blocking schemes, specifically, zone reads. Again, Houston moving him around a lot didn’t help him in where he can recognize his keys on the edge.

Football IQ (7.5/10)

Turner didn’t mainly focus on football until his junior year of high school. Before that, basketball was also a sport that he was involved in. He was moved around a lot and never really had the chance to focus on being a 4i, three-tech, or an edge defender. Turner is still practically learning how to be an edge rusher.

Lateral Mobility (8.5/10)

Watch Turner against BYU. He was able to chase down Zach Wilson and Dax Milne and tackle them. Milne ran a sub-4.55 40-yard dash at his pro day too. At his size, Turner is a very mobile player.

Tackling (9/10)

Turner didn’t have many missed tackles if any at all. When he gained control of the ball carrier, they were in his grasp and weren’t going anywhere.

Power (8.5/10)

If Turner gets enough push off the line of scrimmage with his power, it’s over. He is very powerful with his hands, and if he gets enough of a push right off the line, the quarterback better be on the lookout.

Versatility (9.25/10)

Turner can play in any defensive scheme. During his freshman and sophomore seasons for the Cougars, he played in a 3-4. Before his junior season, Houston switched to a 4-2-5. Turner can play in both two and three-point stances, play on the edge, and on the interior of the defensive line.

Effort (5/5)

He has a constantly running motor. Turner is always putting forth 100 percent on each play and never gives up, even if the play is on the opposite side of the field.

Injury (3.5/5)

Torn ACL in Senior season of high school, calf strain in senior season, and missed time at the Senior Bowl and offseason workouts. Did participate in his pro day on April 9th. 

Player Summary

Turner potentially has the most upside in the whole draft class. He can play in any scheme and has great traits that include his length and effort. If Turner can refine his technique at any spot that he plays in the NFL, he will be a steal for wherever he is taken at in just a few short weeks. Turner has said that the Cowboys, Jaguars, and Eagles have stood out the most in interviews. If that is the case, the sweet spot for him could be in the mid-second round, maybe as early as the 44th pick and as late as the 75th. Either way, Turner has raised his stock so much, going from a virtual unknown to a day two selection.

Final Grade (83.5/100): Mid Second Round 

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