The New Orleans Saints shocked the fanbase with the selection of Payton Turner. However, over the last few drafts, fans should know that management doesn’t always go with the obvious candidate.
There was talk of trading up but that fizzled out as trade partners seemed difficult to deal with. Those top-15 picks were not easily being dealt, and the Saints clearly didn’t find enough value in trading up to make it worth their draft capital.
Being a student of the game is almost as important as having the physical tools, and Saints first-round pick Payton Turner has both.
They should feel content with Turner, who spent four seasons at Houston. A two-sport athlete in high school, Turner stands an intimating 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 270 pounds. He’ll join a dynamic Saints pass rush and could also be useful on the interior line as well.
Prior to coming to New Orleans, Turner was also very aware of the Big Easy’s defensive ends. In an exclusive interview with The Jet Press, Turner mentioned that Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport were a few of the players he’s watched quite a bit of film on.
"“Yeah I like to watch a lot of edge players, a lot of the longer guys. Chandler Jones, the two defensive ends up in Green Bay, the two defensive ends down in New Orleans, Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport. Of course, I’m going to watch J.J. Watt. DeForest Buckner is fun to watch too, especially when he’s on the interior. Just a lot of those longer guys, I like seeing how they play. And I like watching physical players as well so Donald’s going to pop in there too, he’s a freak. My eyes are going to be glued to the defensive line every time football is on,” Turner told Justin Fried."
There’s quite a bit more in that interview if you’re interested as well.
As for fans, they’ll get to look forward to seeing Turner in the black and gold this season. While Davenport and Jordan are ahead of him and Carl Granderson may even have a say when it comes to snap count, Turner could be the future at the position.
In five games with the Cougars last season, Turner recorded 10.5 tackles for a loss. That’s two drives a game that he disrupted with his ability to quickly get in the backfield. He had 5 sacks and 25 tackles in those five games as well.
Turner’s biggest potential downfall is his health. He would’ve put up dominating numbers his final season at Houston if he wasn’t injured. Hopefully, he’s taking more notes from Jordan and not Davenport in that department.
Nonetheless, it’s good for Turner to get to play alongside Jordan, especially considering how long the veteran has been among the best defensive ends in football. If even a little of that rubs off on Turner, watch out, NFC South.