North Dakota State has been one of the best FCS programs in the country and they got a great deal of exposure when they beat Kansas State. Not surprisingly, the Bison have talent that might be able to play in the NFL and one of those is their left tackle, Billy Turner. Turner has been extremely effective for the Bison in his career, getting into the starting lineup as a true freshman and he has not looked back since.
Turner projects to the NFL as a developmental tackle with impressive physical tools. He has prototypical size, shows good strength and has quick feet. Turner plays with a mean streak as a run blocker and is able to slide and protect the edge against the pass. He needs to improve his ability to bend at the knee and play with better leverage and do a better job of hitting opponents in space. As a result, Turner looks like a day three pick that could be a nice swing tackle but has the potential to eventually start if he can continue to develop and improving his technique.
Vitals & Build
Turner is listed at 6’6” 314lbs with a good build for the position. He carries a little bit of extra weight around his midsection, but he has pretty good strength, ballast, and solid feet. Turner is able to move well forward and accelerate pretty well, but he needs to be more consistent with his body control and get more flexible. Turner still has physical potential but the best thing he can do is get better when it comes to bending his knees and playing with better leverage consistently.
Turner can move well and is a pretty fluid athlete for the most part. He does a nice job when he mirrors in protection and seems to be able to move as fast as he needs to in order to protect the edge. Turner is able to pull and get to the second level without too much issue. His body control is not always there and some of that is a matter of angles making it look perhaps worse than it is, but he will end up missing opponents in space as a result on occasion.
Turner is extremely aggressive and plays with a mean streak, more than happy to try to get pancake and knockdown blocks. He can generate power in a small amount of space, has a good first step and will occasionally crumple the opponent in front of him. When he plays behind his hands, he can be a force and move opponents down the field as well as lay a devastating hit on an opponent in space.
The problem Turner runs into is he is inconsistent with his leverage and will play too high. The result is that Turner is only playing with a fraction of his power and has problem moving the opponent and can get caught under his pads and give up some ground. He has shown he can bend at the knee and get low but does not do it consistently and will bend at the waist a little too much at times, which can get him off balance at times.
Turner is able to pull, get to the second level and covers ground well, especially going forward. When he is able to generate momentum, he can be devastating when he blocks down whether it be on the defensive lineman on the guard next to him or catching a linebacker or at times, both in the same play. Turner has no problem getting down the field and being in position to make blocks at the second level but he needs to get more consistent hitting targets in space. In part due to his tendency to go for kill shots, Turner can end up missing the target and trying to save the block from a bad position. With his size and strength, if he just makes contact, they are going to go to the ground, so he just needs to land the block.
One of the things that Turner does well is when opponents run up the field, he loves to use their momentum against them and just give them a shove or more or less throw them past the play, which is great. He needs to take the next step with that and go try to find another block in front of the play rather than looking to hit the same opponent again, who is already out of position to make a play. If he can land a good punch and send the opponent past the play, immediately go and look for someone down the field to hit and potentially land a second meaningful block in the same play.
Turner needs to work on his consistency, especially when it comes to his pad level and hitting opponents in space, but his attitude and strength in the running game is an attractive quality as he really looks to send a message and physically beat on opponents.
Turner is more of a work in progress in terms of his pass blocking, but he does show some qualities that make him extremely attractive as a prospect. He mirrors extremely well and is able to hand speed well. Turner is able to use his hands well and has the power where he can shield opponents out from the play or use power and push them out of the play.
Turner needs to do a better job with bending his knees consistently. Too often, he ends up playing tall and with a narrow base. Opponents are able to catch him under his pads and with virtually no anchor and drive him back into the pocket. He will have problems with opponents who can transition from speed to power for the same reason.
When Turner bends and demonstrates the ability to bend at the ankle well, he is not only able to slide effectively, but he handles power extremely well and becomes virtually immovable with the potential to crumple his opponent. He clearly has the ability to do it, but the vast majority of the time, he is playing too high. In the game against Kansas State, he was remarkably consistent with playing low, so one has to wonder if it is an effort question and perhaps he works harder when he knows he is going to need it as opposed to doing it all the time.
Turner does an excellent job of using a power step to cut off opponents from trying to go inside of him and it almost looks he is opening the door for opponents to try so he can shut them down in the process. He sees it and adjusts extremely well and has a great punch that allows him to smash the opponent into the guard next to him or just put them on the ground.
Another area that needs to improve with Turner is how he operates in space. When he is not blocking someone, he does not do a good job of looking for threats or seeing if he can help a teammate. It is unusually mechanical how he keeps his eyes straight ahead of him, like someone taught him to do it that way. The result is unfortunately that he will end up being the only guy not blocking anyone at times with nothing to do when there are opportunities to slide and pick up an opponent or help out a teammate to finish a block.
There are a lot of tools that could allow Turner to be extremely successful as a pass blocker but he needs reps and coaching. If he can improve his knee bend and operate more effectively in space, he really becomes an asset for a team.
Turner does a pretty good job with his hands. Occasionally, he will get too far inside and allow opponents to fall off, but that is usually a case when he is blocking an opponent from the side. However, some of that is because he put himself in bad position and pursued the play from a bad spot, which is something he needs to work to eliminate. Turner does show a good punch that can jolt opponents.
Turner’s feet are pretty good in terms of how well he can move and mirror. He can work to improve some of the angles he takes to blocks to make it easier on him or land blocks effectively in space.
The larger issue for Turner is his knee bend and how often he bends at the ankle. He can do it; he has shown he has the ability to do it. He needs to make it just how he operates every play as opposed to inconsistently. If he does that, his feet and his range to slide in pass protection should get better because he can cover more ground while staying more balanced.
Turner is perhaps more fitted to play in a power scheme, but he can play in virtually any scheme with work. The key with Turner is going to a team that can coach him to eliminate some of his bad habits and continue to work and improve his technique. If he takes coaching and develops, he could be a nice swing tackle with the potential to start down the road. In many ways, Turner is almost an ideal developmental player because of his natural size, strength and athletic ability. He just needs to work to put it altogether and do it consistently.
Turner’s game is somewhat similar to that of Bruce Campbell of the Carolina Panthers. Campbell came out of Maryland as an incredibly impressive physical athlete and was one of the biggest stories from the Combine that year just because of how good he looked as a player. Nevertheless, like with Turner, Campbell has technical issues that needed to be addressed. Turner could have a similar path but may ultimately find himself developing into a starter long term if he can address his issues.
Turner’s physical potential is impressive and has the tools to be a starting tackle in the NFL. In addition to the size and quickness he has, Turner has a nice mean streak for the game. The key with him is continuing to develop to eliminate some bad habits and get more consistent with good technique. He could be a player who gets some buzz if he gets invited to a postseason All-Star game and shows well, but he still seems to be a developmental player. Turner projects as a third day prospect and in many ways, is the ideal project tackle that could play on either side of the line if he can get more consistent.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com