At this time last year, people were already getting excited about a certain Alabama edge rusher: Will Anderson Jr. His time has now come and gone in the draft process, and it’s time to look forward to the next in line from the factory that is the Crimson Tide. Dallas Turner is already garnering a lot of hype as a possible top-ten pick for next year, but is the hype around him getting overblown? Or will he be the next elite edge defender to come out of Alabama? Today, we’ll take a look at his game and what he does well in this way-too-early scouting report for the 2024 NFL Draft.
Height/Weight: 6’4″/243 pounds
Draft Projection: Mid First Round
Dallas Turner has a lot going for him. He was a heavily recruited five-star player coming out of college, and he was able to get his collegiate career off to a great start with an astounding 8.5 sacks across seven games in his true freshman season. He has gotten high praise from his teammates and coaches alike, and he seems to be on an early first-round trajectory for the draft next year. He is now one of the cornerstones of Alabama’s defense for the 2023 season with the Crimson Tide losing numerous defenders that were key contributors last year.
While there are a lot of things to be optimistic about with him, there are some who think the hype with him is getting overblown. Some also think that his production was inflated. He played opposite Will Anderson Jr., the third-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, for all of his college career, and there are people who think that he was simply in the ‘right place at the right time’ to benefit from that. Some are also concerned with his statistical regression in 2022, and all of the contrasting opinions around him motivated me to delve into his tape to see how good he really is.
- Versatile; can rush the edge or drop back in coverage
- Plays with great speed and a quick first step
- Plays with good strength to complement speed
- Can easily push linemen back and collapse the pocket
- Good bend coming off the edge
- Above average agility
- Solid overall size for his position
- Scheme versatile
- Lacks awareness of where the ball is in the run game
- Too often lets himself get locked on with blockers rather than getting past them
- Tackling can be inconsistent at times
- Doesn’t have a deep bag of pass-rush moves
- Regressed last season after an elite season as a freshman
- May have benefited from teams putting extra bodies on Will Anderson Jr.
- Sometimes gets caught in the wrong place in coverage when he locks his eyes in the backfield
I’ve been pretty excited to watch Dallas Turner because I keep hearing about how he’s the next great Alabama edge rusher after Will Anderson, but after reviewing his tape, I’m not as impressed as some are. Let’s get the positives out of the way first. His size and athleticism are on display right away when you turn on his film. He gets off the snap quickly and has a lot of juice when crashing down into the backfield. His versatility is also very appealing. He’s usually capable when dropping back into coverage, and he will likely be able to carve out a role in almost any NFL system with how dynamic and explosive he is as an athlete.
Now let’s talk about what I saw on film that I didn’t like. The first and most obvious thing to me was his lack of awareness as a run defender. There were numerous times when he would let himself get locked on with a blocker and let the ball carrier run right by him without shedding off and making a tackle. He usually doesn’t seem to know where the ball is when the offense is running it, and that has led to him being underwhelming as a run defender. Beyond that, the regression in his stats since his freshman year is also concerning. He had 8.5 sacks and allowed a QB rating of 74.0 when targeted in his freshman season, but he logged only 4 sacks and allowed a QB rating of 106.3 in his sophomore season despite playing 239 more snaps, according to Sports Reference. Losing Will Anderson Jr. on this defensive line might hurt his bounce back a little bit, but he already got off to a good start against MTSU in Week 1.
To summarize, Dallas Turner has a lot of potential and looks like an elite player on some reps. His problem is that he has a lot of ‘empty’ reps, where he’s getting locked up or ran out of the play. If he can improve on some elements of his game and become more consistent overall, he could easily end up being the top-edge rusher in the 2024 NFL draft class. We’ll see what he does throughout the rest of the college football season this year and whether or not he can take that step into stardom that so many hope he can.
Grade: 90.6 (Mid First Round)
Pro Comparison: Yannick Ngakoue
Team Fits: Vikings, Ravens, Giants
Games Watched: LSU (2022), Texas (2022), Ole Miss (2022)