Age (At Draft Day): 21
Position: Edge Rusher
Weight: 245 pounds
Dallas Turner, the Alabama Crimson Tide edge, has emerged as one of the most sought-after defensive prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft class. Standing at 6'4" and weighing 245 pounds, his journey from a highly-touted five-star recruit to a key contributor at Alabama speaks volumes about his potential impact at the professional level.
As a highly sought-after recruit coming out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida, Turner earned five-star ratings from just about every major recruiting service. 247Sports had him ranked as the 12th best player in the country and the #1 edge rusher, while Rivals had him at #19 in the country.
Turner's arrival in Tuscaloosa came with immense expectations, given his status as a top-tier high school recruit. He immediately showcased his abilities, making an impact as a freshman with an impressive 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss, earning him Freshman All-American honors.
While his sophomore season didn't replicate the statistical production of his debut year, Turner's physical traits and contributions were evident, establishing himself as a pivotal pass-rushing specialist for the Crimson Tide.
However, in his junior season, Turner regained momentum and reclaimed his role as Alabama's primary pass-rush threat. In 2023, Turner totalled 50 tackles including 13.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.
- Explosive First Step: Turner possesses a lightning-quick first step off the line, providing him with a decisive advantage in penetrating opposing offensive lines. Additionally, his burst and agility allow him to disrupt plays almost immediately, forcing quarterbacks into hurried decisions.
- Agile Change-of-Direction Skills: Demonstrates impressive fluidity in maneuvering through traffic, showcasing the ability to seamlessly adjust his path and disrupt plays. Navigates through blockers with remarkable ease, slicing through gaps to create chaos in the backfield.
- Length and Edge Setting: Leverages his impressive length effectively, enabling him to set the edge and maintain a critical distance from blockers while executing his defensive responsibilities. Exhibits proficiency in slipping through tight spaces in the trenches, while keeping his outside arm free, a testament to his edge-setting abilities.
- Evolving Play Strength: The Alabama product has seen notable enhancements in play strength, including a marked improvement in his first-step explosiveness, and his ability to convert speed to power more consistently.
- High-End Bend: Demonstrates above-average bend for an edge rusher, enabling him to turn tight corners and maintain balance when navigating around blockers. His flexibility allows for agile movements, creating leverage and advantageous angles to disrupt passing lanes.
- Nuanced Pass-Rush Plan: Exhibits weekly advancements in hand technique and leverage, demonstrating an increasingly refined and strategic approach in pass-rushing situations. Shows versatility in his rush plan, from a forceful bull rush to artfully executed spin moves, adapting to opponents' weaknesses.
- Versatility in Coverage: Beyond his prowess as an edge rusher, Turner exhibits adaptability in coverage roles, showcasing the agility and awareness to handle underneath zones effectively and cover swing routes with ease.
- Play Processing and Quick Recognition: The Florida Native, Turner, displays swift mental processing, quickly analyzing offensive schemes and reacting decisively as the play develops. Exhibits a high football IQ, enabling him to anticipate snap counts and react swiftly, allowing him to close gaps rapidly.
- Pursuit Angles and Consistency: Turner has an occasional tendency to take acute angles in pursuit, potentially compromising optimal positioning or containment. Improving pursuit angles and maintaining consistency could bolster his overall efficiency.
- Hand Technique and Violence Inconsistency: Turner's hand usage lacks the ferocity and consistency necessary to efficiently shed blockers, impacting his overall effectiveness. Refinement in hand technique, coupled with increased aggression, would elevate his ability to disengage and impact plays consistently.
- Lack of Lateral Mobility Aggression: Despite fluid lateral movement skills, Dallas' agility sometimes lacks the forceful explosiveness seen in elite edge defenders. Enhancing his lateral explosiveness and aggression could even further elevate his ability to disrupt plays and affect the quarterback.
- Inconsistent Speed-to-Power Transition: While showing improvement, his execution of the speed-to-power transition remains irregular, often depending heavily on precise timing and execution. Strengthening the consistency of this transition would enhance his effectiveness in overpowering blockers.
- Run Defense Engagement: Turner struggles at times to consistently leverage angles effectively in run defense, impacting his ability to engage and overpower opponents in close quarters. Developing the ability to maintain leverage and engage effectively against the run will bolster his overall performance.
- Execution from Two-Point Stance: Enhancing consistency and effectiveness when operating from a two-point stance will elevate his versatility and impact in multiple defensive alignments.
Draft Projection: 1st Round
Dallas Turner's journey from a heralded high school recruit to a disruptive force at the University of Alabama has solidified his status as a premier prospect entering the 2024 NFL Draft. Despite minor fluctuations in his production from his freshman season to now, Turner's raw talent, coupled with evident growth, positions him as an ascending player with immense upside.
Scouts view Turner as a calculated investment with substantial room for development. His adaptability to modern defensive strategies and the evolving landscape of the NFL make him an attractive asset for prospective teams. As the league gravitates toward versatile and multifaceted defenses, Turner's potential to thrive in diverse roles adds an intriguing dimension to his draft stock.
Projected as a compelling first-round selection, Turner's youth, skill set, and growth trajectory underscore his potential to become a transformative presence on the defensive front. Continued refinement and nurturing of his talent will likely pave the way for a successful transition to the professional realm. With the right guidance and development, Turner is poised to make a substantial impact and establish himself among the elite defensive talents in the NFL.
Player Comparison: Danielle Hunter
Dallas Turner's skill set and potential trajectory in the NFL draw parallels to Danielle Hunter when he entered the league. Similar to Hunter, Turner showcases an explosive first step off the line, utilizing his agility and burst to disrupt plays almost instantly. Their shared ability to maintain leverage and set the edge effectively, leveraging their length and agility, is a testament to their defensive prowess.
Both players exhibited an evolving play strength coming out of college, showing improvements in their first-step explosiveness and transitioning speed to power more consistently. Turner, much like Hunter, demonstrates above-average bend for an edge rusher, enabling him to navigate around blockers with flexibility and maintain balance when turning corners.
In terms of weaknesses, both Turner and Hunter faced challenges in certain aspects of their game early in their careers. For instance, Turner, like Hunter in his early years, occasionally struggles with pursuit angles and maintaining consistency, impacting their overall efficiency. Additionally, both players needed refinement in hand technique and shedding blockers with more aggression to impact plays consistently.
Hunter's journey in the NFL has seen him develop into a dominant force on the defensive front for the Minnesota Vikings. Similarly, Turner possesses the raw talent, agility, and adaptability to potentially follow a trajectory akin to Hunter's career. With continued guidance and development, Turner has the potential to become a disruptive presence on the edge, much like Hunter has become in the NFL.