The New Orleans Saints made one of the most shocking picks of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft when they snagged Houston defensive end Payton Turner at pick number 28, but the pick makes a lot of sense for the team. Turner is a huge defensive end, standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 270 pounds.
The initial reaction to the Saints’ selection of Turner didn’t go over well for the majority of Saints fans, but once the dust settled the pick made a lot of sense. Turner is a high motor player who will significantly enhance the defensive line that saw departures from Sheldon Rankins, Trey Hendrickson, and Malcom Brown this offseason.
Marcus Davenport will have two seasons left under his current contract and Cameron Jordan is getting older every year. Adding a young spark to the defensive line doesn’t seem like a bad move to make, especially when you consider the toll the position has on your body and the schedule has been extended by a game.
Turner will certainly be a rotational piece along side Marcus Davenport at defensive end, or Turner could bump to the interior and line up as a defensive tackle.
During his college career with the Cougars, Turner was a force to be reckoned with. In his last two years, he racked up 59 total tackles to go along with nine sacks, a forced fumble, and four defended passes. Those numbers show why the Saints were interested in him.
New Orleans should not be expecting Turner to come in and be a star right off the bat. He has a lot of work to do, but the raw talent and potential is definitely there. With good coaching and some time, Turner could very well develop into a very solid starter.
Payton Turner has elite athleticism off the edge and could be a great player to mold the New Orleans defense around in years to come. I think the performance of Turner will surprise a lot of people, including Saints fans, and he could be a dark-horse candidate to win Defensive Rookie of the Year if he can rack up close to double digit sacks.
Granted, expectations should be tempered, but the potential is huge. This pick may not have been super popular right off the bat, but that will change. Turner could very well end up becoming a very special player for the Saints.