The New Orleans Saints hit big when they landed Tar Heel guard Landon Turner as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Originally projected as mid-round draft choice, Turner saw his stock fall further and further as the picks progressed. However, that didn’t get his spirits down.
“It was disappointing for me to not get drafted, but that’s just part of the business. Now that I’m kind of here, it’s a motivating factor,” Turner said in a post-OTA interview last week.
Perhaps you can call it a bit of a coincidence that Turner found a spot with the Saints in the sense that he had a previous experience with the team when he was 14 years old. In the spring of 2008, Turner and a group of high school athletes visited the Saints’ team facility on a trip arranged by his mother and stepfather that would help the Gulf Coast recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Although Turner was just a freshman, it was a visit that clearly left an impact. Turner also previously visited with the Saints back in April.
- Height: 6-foot-4
- Weight: 330 pounds
- Arm Length: 32 7/8″
- Hands: 10 3/8″
What Turner can do on the field
As a three-year starter for the Tar Heels, Turner started 41 games. He’s known for using his power for opposing pass rushers at first contact, and can use his frame to hold off more than one. There’s a certain mean streak and aggression to his play that sets the tone, and he’s guaranteed to add value as a strong run blocker.
Big Easy Believer says:
"Get this: in the 2015 season alone, Turner was credited by the North Carolina coaching staff for dishing out a grand total of 72 (yes, SEVENTY-TWO) pancake blocks against opponents; with three games in which he was credited with double-digit pancake blocks, including a season-high 17 against in-state rival North Carolina A&T in Week #2."
"Landon Turner is a very easy evaluation in my estimation because his strengths and weaknesses are so obvious. Turner is a road grader deluxe whose size and power will have teams who covet those traits licking their chops. However, he’s no dancing bear and they will have to be OK with his potential concerns against quickness in pass protection."
Pro Football Focus says:
"Landon Turner was a major reason North Carolina were so successful in 2015. He may well prove an absolute steal for a power team on Day 3. Although he is less effective in pass protection, Turner still only allowed eight combined pressures (one sack, two hits and five hurries) last season. He is a man-blocking offensive line coaches’ dream, offering the versatility to double-team, down block or pull through the hole. Turner has the potential to make an impact on Sundays."
How Turner can help the Saints
The guard competition is absolutely wide open right now for the black and gold. Sean Payton has alluded to the fact that second year offensive lineman Andrus Peat is envisioned as starter, but isn’t sure where he fits in. Peat played at first string guard during OTAs.
The only solid placements on the Saints offensive line is left tackle Terron Armstead and center Max Unger. Outside of that, it’s anyone’s guess. Turner comes from a spread offense, which uses several wide receivers to stretch out of the defense along the line of scrimmage. The routes in a spread offense are designed to stretch defenders vertically and horizontally, which means a huge emphasis on protecting the quarterback to give them time to find the open man.
Turner knew the Saints needed help and that he could offer help. He considers himself very strong with power, and is self-aware of the need to lose some weight (ten pounds) and his movement. The zone blocking system will be new to Turner with the Saints, but he has more than enough intelligence to pick it up.
Something synonymous with Turner’s humble personality is the warm and welcome tones fans had toward him after joining the Saints. Fans can’t help but root for a player like Turner, who can’t help smiling constantly after having one of his lifelong dreams come true that he’s wanted since the first grade.