2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Payton Turner

  • Payton Turner, 6-5/270

  • Defensive End

  • Houston

  • Payton Turner Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Good size
  • Plays tough
  • Strong to set the edge
  • Upper body strength
  • Fast for his size
  • Showed improvement as he gained experience
  • Tons of upside
  • Violent hitter
  • Puts quarterbacks down hard
  • Quick off the ball
  • Closing burst
  • Active hands
  • Long frame
  • Heavy hands
  • Holds up against runs coming straight at him
  • Can serve as a two-gap defender
  • Can hold his ground in run defense
  • Strength mismatch with finesse OTs
  • Uses power and length to push around finesse OTs
  • Great fit as a 3-4 five-technique
  • Tough base end in a 4-3

  • Weaknesses:
  • Raw
  • Has some stiffness
  • Gets in trouble when he stands up too high
  • Needs to develop more pass-rushing moves
  • Had some lower body injuries
  • Probably won’t be a big sack producer in the NFL

  • Summary: While Turner did not produce big stat lines during his college career, he flashed a big-time skill set with a ton of upside to get better as he gains experience. Turner saw his first significant action in 2018, recording 42 tackles, four passes defended and zero sacks. He improved his sack production as a junior, getting to the quarterback four times while recording 34 tackles and four passes broken up. Turner then racked up 25 tackles and five sacks in the pandemic shortened 2020 season.

    Turner is developing as a pass rusher and has the potential to continue to grow in the NFL. He is strong in terms of fighting off offensive tackles, and he uses his power and length to push around finesse offensive tackles. Turner shows a surprising burst and can close on the quarterback when he gets free, and when he arrives at the signal-caller, he puts them down hard. Turner can lay some violent hits that will really beat up the quarterback, but not in a dirty way. Turner is a tough fighter who possesses imposing size and physicality.

    Turner may never be a big sack producer in the NFL because he has some stiffness and lacks pass-rushing moves. He could struggle to shed blocks from bigger offensive tackles who won’t be overwhelmed by his strength. Improving his pass-rushing moves, such as a club and rip move to the inside would make him more dangerous. In college, he excelled versus some bad offensive tackles who were not NFL prospects, so Turner will need to develop to be effective against the huge jump in competition.

    Turner is tough in the ground game, using his size and strength to set the edge. He can get in trouble when he stands up too high, but when he maintains his leverage, he is tough to move and can maintain his gap integrity. Turner is naturally tall, so staying low to play with better leverage is always going to be a challenge for him. After getting some pro coaching and provided he improves in leverage, he should be a good run defender to set the edge in a either 4-3 or 3-4 defense.

    “[Turner] plays tough; I’ll give him that,” said an area scout. “The comp for him is Marcus Davenport, as both were/are very raw. Payton plays more physical, while Davenport wasn’t as stiff and had more pass rush. I think bigger offensive tackles in the NFL will be able to handle Payton some, just like they do Davenport. Payton is too stiff to rush from the inside, but I do like him as a Day 3 guy that could turn into a solid pro.”

    Even though Turner is raw, he has potential, and sources say he has risen up draft boards throughout the process. They think he could go as high as the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft and should not fall out of the third round.

    Player Comparison: Marcus Davenport. Turner is similar to Davenport in being a raw defender with a good skill sets and upside. Turner will not get drafted as high as Davenport was, but some teams had Davenport graded on Day 2 and thought the Saints reached way too high on him. That has been proven true thus far. Turner could turn into a solid base end who is respectable but not a dominant sack producer.


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