LSU’s Trai Turner was the surprise early entrant for the NFL Draft this year for that school. Last year, a number of defensive players left early and this year, it was the offense’s turn. Turner was an impressive run blocker and showed a good amount of ability in pass protection as well, starting in 20 games in his career in Baton Rouge. It was not always consistent, but when he was good, he could be really good in helping pave the way for the Tigers running game.
For the NFL, Turner is not a finished product yet but what he is bringing to the NFL along with his physical potential are certainly impressive. He has a great understanding of how to maximize his strength and use great leverage to enable him to impose his will on opponents. Turner is also a pretty good pass protector, but he does need to get in better shape, particularly with his stamina. As a result, Turner looks like he could go right around the fringes of the top 100 with a terrific amount of upside for the NFL.
Vitals & Build
Turner measured 6’3” 310lbs at the scouting combine with 34” arms. He carried a decent amount of weight around his midsection that could be trimmed up, but the impact on him seems more about his endurance than anything else. Turner shows explosive strength at times and does a great job with getting the most out of it. If he can get better in his core and continue getting stronger, he has some intriguing upside with what he can already do.
Looking at him, Turner does not look like he should move terribly well. And while it can be inconsistent, Turner is incredibly spry at times, showing tremendous mobility at times. Whether it is pulling or getting to the second level, there are times when Turner is incredibly light on his feet and can even catch the opponent by surprise. It is not consistent and there are times when that ability to move is not always there, but when he is fresh, he can be extremely impressive.
In addition to improving his stamina, the other area that can sometimes hurt Turner is breaking down to hit targets in space.
Turner shows some special qualities in the running game. He shows a great initial punch, is able to gain momentum quickly and gets behind his pads really well allowing him to be a bulldozer at times. Turner consistently is able to create space in the running game and will occasionally send opponents reeling.
He is great getting to the second level and can land multiple blocks on the same play when the linebacker is in front of him. Turner has a little more trouble when it comes to landing a block on a player in space and can have trouble breaking down to land a block.
Fresh, he can pull and be ahead of the play and be a terrific lead blocker. When he gets tired, he will have some problems getting to his spot quickly and get in the way. It could occasionally limit what the Tigers wanted to do offensively.
Turner has the capacity to be an absolute mauler in the running game, but he has not shown he is a finisher yet. He has his fair share of knock down blocks, but he is a guy who will stop when he feels the job is done and plays to the whistle, not through the whistle. It seems like another year of college would have allowed him to become more of a finisher and improve his stamina, which are the keys to really unlocking his tremendous potential.
Turner is a solid pass blocker. He has more than enough lateral agility to do the job and is really stout in a phone booth. His natural strength and base make it a really natural move for him to anchor and absorb power with a punch that can get him control of the play.
Turner has the feet to be a good pass blocker but does not always follow through with them. As he gets tired, he can stop his feet and lean more, relying on his arm length and overall ballast to get the job done. Because of his overall strength, he has been able to get away with it, but that could be more problematic at the next level.
Turner shows a pretty good amount of patience and holds his water when a pass rusher is not readily apparent. He keeps his head on a swivel and has a good sense of where he needs to position himself to maximize the pocket.
Turner’s punch and hands are impressive. He is able to jolt opponents effectively and he does a great job of making it count by getting behind his pads and getting the most possible out of his body with good leverage.
He does a pretty good job with angles and working to get his positioning right, but he can obviously improve. This is more the case in space and getting the best angle as well as breaking down to make sure he does not miss blocks in space and at the second level.
Turner has the feet to do the job, but just needs to get to a point where they are always on display. Both from his quickness and burst, Turner is great on a play or few, but when he is tired, it has a big impact. Ability wise, he can clearly do it and just needs to be able to do it a higher percentage of the time or NFL defenders will take advantage and beat him when he wears down.
Turner’s best fit is in a gap scheme at right guard. If he can get cleaner around his midsection and more consistent with his ability on the move, it is possible someone could look at him for left guard, but that seems unlikely. It is also possible that he could get some looks for a zone scheme as a right guard.
Turner is probably going to need a little bit of time to get acclimated, but he has the potential to start and be a potential star down the road. It will come down to how fast Turner can learn the playbook and get in shape enough to be a consistent, every down player.
Turner has some similarities to Marshal Yanda of the Baltimore Ravens. They have similar builds for the position and may end up going around the same area of the draft. Like with Yanda, it may take a little bit of time for Turner to find his way in the NFL, but if he can, it could have a similar level of impact the way Yanda has, playing at an incredibly high level.
Trai Turner is not a finished product, but he is a really impressive potential player. He knows how to use his strength and has the athleticism to be a good pass blocker. Another year in college might have allowed him to be a substantially more finished product, but it could enable a team to get a great player and pay the freight for a year, getting a possible impact player at a cheaper price. Turner looks like he will go right around the top 100 picks in the NFL Draft because of his raw talent and upside.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com