2023 NFL Draft Prospect Profile – DJ Turner, BC, Michigan
Did Turner’s 4.26 40 time get him on the draft boards?
By Chris Pflum on March 19, 2023 2:00 PM
There are few positions on the football field more difficult to play than cornerback. Not only do corners need to have a very good understanding of the defensive scheme and the game, but they also need to have a pretty good idea of what the attack is doing.
Oh, and he definitely has the highest athletic bonus of any position.
It’s no wonder teams that favor aggressive defending price corners with the ability to play man coverage are so high.
Michigan cornerback DJ Turner II won’t be the No. 1 cornerback in the draft in April. However, he warned the NFL that he certainly had the wheels to play the position at a high level in the NFL. Turner’s tape shows a player with effortless athleticism and the ability to stick with receivers throughout their runs. His combined performance likely sent scouts back to that strip and coaches to imagine the possibilities.
The New York Giants showed strong interest in the cornerback position in the 2022 NFL Draft, and Win Martindale’s defense could use a player with Turner’s skills. But how much could they value it?
Hope: DJ Turner II (5)
Games watched: vs. Maryland (2022), vs. Penn State (2022), vs. Ohio State (2022), vs. TCU (2022)
Measurable career statistics
Games played: 27
Tackles For A Defeat: 2.0
Passes defended: 17
Games played: 14
Tackles For A Defeat: 1.0
Passes defended: 10
Best: Athletics, long speed, fluidity, male coverage, disruptive
Worst: Mass, playing strength, defensive running
Projection: A starting cornerback in a men’s coverage program
(Turner is Michigan CB number 5)
Michigan cornerback DJ Turner has an exceptional blend of speed and fluidity to play the position at the NFL level.
Turner is a lean, competitive cornerback with truly elite speed, as evidenced by his 4.26-second 40-yard dash. He also has an explosive lower body, flowing hips and quick feet. Turner primarily played the outside cornerback position in Michigan’s defense, although he moved inside if opposing personnel packages and roster required it. He typically played in off-man coverage which allowed him to use his explosive burst to close under plays as well as be patient with mid or deep lanes.
Turner has very quick feet, allowing him to click and close at the top of lanes to descend below with little wasted movement. He also has a very good closing burst, which he uses to close receiving windows out of coverage. Turner has the hip fluidity to stick with most receivers throughout their runs and is a sticky coverage player. His raw speed allows him to carry almost any receiver down vertical lanes, as well as crush loose ball carriers from behind. Turner is willing to be physical at the point of catch and does a good job playing receivers hands to find the pass defended.
He also has strong communication skills in area coverage, communicating well with his teammates to avoid coverage outages. Turner has a solid awareness of out-of-coverage or the zone, keeping an eye in the backfield and he offers a quick trigger when playing downhill. He’s a willful running defender who’s able to hold blocks on the perimeter, offers solid effort in the chase, and doesn’t seem to make “business decisions.”
That said, Turner’s lightweight frame is a limiting factor, especially in his run defense. He can struggle to get rid of blockers and is a tackler who leads to yards after contact. He’s generally able to get physical with most receivers, but big receivers in particular can overpower him if he tries to block on the break or at the catch point.
Turner may also show slight hesitation or uncertainty if he doesn’t immediately have someone to cover in the coverage area. Likewise, he may also appear a bit lost in the field if a course design requires him to detach from his receiver in human cover. It can sometimes take him a second or two to find his bearings in space and attach himself to the receiver.
Overall rating: 7.0
Michigan cornerback DJ Turner is projected as the starting cornerback at the NFL level.
He offers an incredibly enticing athletic advantage and will immediately be one of the most athletic cornerbacks – or players at any position – in the NFL upon entering the league. His raw speed, quickness, and fluidity give him a relatively large margin for error and the ability to recover if he makes a mistake. It also allows him to be much more disruptive at the point of capture than his size and frame would suggest.
Turner wasn’t a ballhawk in college, and part of that was due to quarterbacks avoiding his side of the field. That said, he was also very dangerous when he had the ball in his hands, and two of the four times he had the ball in his hands resulted in defensive touchdowns (one interception and one fumble recovery).
Turner seems much more comfortable in man coverage – or using coverage rules that turn area coverage into man coverage. He has strong discipline and communication skills, but the men’s coverage allows him to build on his strengths as an athlete. It is able to get into the hip pockets of receivers and stay there throughout the course.
DJ Turner will not be for all defenses. Teams that play mostly in zone coverage or want big, physical cornerbacks could move him down their draft boards despite his athletic advantage. However, teams that value man cover (even if there is no man) and want to add speed to their defense might consider taking him very early on day two or even later. in the first round.