Sunday, April 27, 2014
Rams prospect profile: Billy Turner
By Nick Wagoner
The 2014 NFL draft is still 11 days away. Before we get there, we'll take a look at a prospect or two in the draft who could be of interest to the St. Louis Rams.
By now, we've covered most of the big names so the focus here will be on vetting some potential additions beyond the top 10 of the draft.
Position: Offensive tackle
School: North Dakota State
Height/Weight: 6-4 7/8, 315 pounds
Projected round: 2 or 3
Pros: A four-year performer, Turner started 57 games in his career and has all of the intangibles you look for. In addition to size and strength, Turner checks off boxes in arm length (34") and hand size (10"). Tested well enough to show he's a good athlete for his size. Comes from strong bloodlines with a father and brother boasting NFL experience. Durable player who never missed a game in college. Solid as a pass blocker and has a mean streak which helps in the run game.
Cons: Coming from a small school, how he fares against elite competition will remain a question until he has the opportunity to do it from week to week. Lacks polish on fundamentals and technique. A bit top heavy as a pass protector and can get caught leaning. Tendency to carry pads too high in the run game which can prevent him from knocking defenders back. While he's a good athlete, probably not best suited for a zone blocking scheme.
Fit with Rams: All of Turner's experience is on the edge at tackle but many see Turner as a guard in the NFL long term. The Rams need some help at both spots and a player who has the versatility to do both would be a logical fit. If Turner plays tackle in the NFL, he's better suited to the right side where he could potentially compete with Joe Barksdale as a rookie and perhaps replace him in 2015 if Barksdale isn't re-signed after the season. But Turner's long term future is probably best suited inside at guard where he compares to the Rams' Rodger Saffold in that he could be effective as a tackle but his greatest upside is inside at guard. The Rams had Turner in for a pre-draft visit and he'd be a logical fit if the Rams don't go for an offensive lineman in the first round.
He said it: Turner on where he sees his fit in the NFL -- "I think it depends on the scheme and wherever I get drafted," Turner said at the combine. "But to be honest, I was playing tackle my entire career up in North Dakota and I always wanted the chance to play guard, just because I’m a physical guy, I’m a physical run blocker, so I always wanted to get inside, get a little closer to that defender and just try to run some people over a little more than you can at the tackle position, but I was always kept at tackle because they needed me to defend the edge for our quarterback. A lot of guys I’ve talked to say they want to see me at guard, so we’ll see what happens."