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Saints rookie Payton Turner was a draft day reach...unless he wasn’t

There’s plenty of room for variance here.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We have already covered what the New Orleans Saints might be getting out of their 1st round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, Payton Turner, by reviewing game film. But what about a take from the people who spent the last few years watching him each game? I caught up with Joe Broback of Underdog Dynasty, SB Nation’s site for the University of Houston, to discuss five quick questions about the Saints’ newest pass rusher.

Where you excited to see Payton Turner get drafted in the first round? Did this seem too high? Too low? Just right?

I was elated to hear his name called in the first round. Houston fans thought it was a possibility that he could sneak into the first round, but nearly everyone thought he’d be a second or third round pick. I think it was too high to see him go, but I’m happy for Payton that he got drafted there. The Saints could have waited a while to get him, but I guess they were higher on him than most, so they pulled the trigger and snagged a guy who’s really just getting started with his playing career.

What are Payton’s biggest strengths that you think will translate to the NFL?

I said before the draft that Payton Turner might be one of the best values in this year’s draft. He’s a player who still has room for development, but he’s also not completely raw as a prospect. He’s worked well to improve his bend around the edge, combining that with his explosive power that he uses to bull rush the tackle in front of him. His power also helps him shed blockers when engaged, freeing him up to attack the ball carrier. He also has underrated athleticism who’s capable of adapting to something new presented to him in his pass rush or when stopping the run. Defensive line coach Brian Early helped mold him into a more complete player, and help unveil his explosive play even more, especially at the snap.

What are the biggest things Payton needs to work on to improve his game at the next level?

He’s still fairly raw as a player. The upside outweighs the concern at this point, as he’s farther along than most players like him. He’s still learning how to become more consistent as an end, but at least got one year of solid coaching before turning pro. He can play upright too much at times, so he’ll need to fix that if he wants to compete consistently in the trenches at the next level.

Were there ever any concerns with Payton off-the-field as far as you were aware?

No, Payton Turner puts in as much work off the field as he does on it. When he signed with Houston, he weighed 220 pounds. Coaches told him he needed to bulk up, and he’s since added 60 pounds without sacrificing the explosiveness in his game. Whatever Sean Payton and the Saints ask him to do, he’ll do. He’s a team guy who will do what it takes to make plays and help the team win.

What kind of career do you expect or hope Payton to have in New Orleans? Is there a particular NFL player that you think represents his ceiling?

I’m not a big comparison guy, so I’ll leave that to the experts. I hope Payton has a long career in the NFL. He has all of the physical tools to be successful, and the right coach can mold him into a terror for any offensive tackle to block. It just depends on how quickly he can pick it up. Like I said, he’s only had one full year with a coach that helped him improve greatly, so there’s still room to grow and get better. His trajectory is upward, and he’s already proven that he has the right mindset and work ethic to be a successful NFL player and have a long career in this league.

Thanks to Joe for joining us to discuss Payton Turner.

It’s interesting that Joe, a fan of Turner, thinks late first round was too early, and that a second or third round pick was the consensus among many Houston fans. At the same time, Joe’s comments regarding Turner’s progression and upside are definite grounds for optimism. If Turner never lives up to his potential, the first round selection might look like a severe overpay. On the other hand, if he lives up to his ceiling, he could very well look like a first round steal.

Does Joe’s take make you feel better or worse about the pick? Let us know in the comments. Send me presents.

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