After Further Review: Five takes on Saints first round pick Payton Turner

After Further Review: Five takes on Saints first round pick Payton Turner
Saints first round pick Payton Turner vs. Memphis. (Source: University of Houston Football Athletics)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take one: Saints stunner

Let’s not sugarcoat the obvious, no one saw this coming outside of the Saints facility.

New draftee Payton Turner reacts to being taken by the Saints

In fact, when the pick came down, we were on the set of FOX 8 Overtime and had a collective look of confusion on our faces in the midst of a live broadcast.

With players like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Elijah Moore, Asante Samuel Jr., and Christian Barmore still on the board, the Saints picked Houston defensive end Payton Turner.

Most publications had him a late second, early third-round selection. The Saints clearly had him higher up on their board, and were able to keep his name under wraps during a pre-draft process.

There was a late report Thursday morning that Turner might be moving up boards. The Saints were one of those teams that clearly valued his skill set. They bypassed other more pressing needs to take him, because he was their best player available.

Take Two: Meet Payton Turner

Sean Payton immediately sighted Turner’s high motor and prototype size as the main reasons they liked him.

He’s 6′6, 270 pounds, with long arms and great length, which is necessary at that position. He’s a player labeled as having a ‘tremendous upside.’

He had solid production while at Houston. Last season, Turner had five sacks in five games played, including two against Tulane. He’ll join a rotation of Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and Carl Granderson. Payton said he will get on the field in his first year.

Take Three: The trade that didn’t happen

The Saints dominated the buildup to the draft with reports that they were aggressively trying to move up, possibly into the top ten.

They undoubtedly attempted, as Payton confirmed, but could never strike a deal. Payton said half of the teams weren’t interested, and the other half wanted too hefty of a price to make a trade. He also said dealing with new general managers was a challenge.

I thought the low-20′s would’ve been a more reasonable striking distance. But the move never happened, and the cornerbacks just kept going off the board one-by-one. Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain were gone in the top ten. Caleb Farley and Greg Newsome II were gone at 22 and 26.

By the time the Saints were up at 28, the top four players at their biggest position of need were gone.

It was a little strange to see them not get a trade done, mainly because the earlier reporting was so specific and their history of successfully finding partners and trading up.

Take Four : Belief in the bigs

2015 - Andrus Peat

2016 - Sheldon Rankins

2017- Ryan Ramczyk

2018- Marcus Davenport

2019- Erik McCoy

2020- Cesar Ruiz

2021 - Payton Turner

The pattern should be obvious. The Saints have placed a premium on the line of scrimmage. In the last seven drafts, the Saints have used a first-round pick, or their first pick of the draft (’19) on an offensive or defensive lineman. This directly coincides with the arrival of Jeff Ireland.

The philosophy is clear, teams can’t win in the NFL without winning in the trenches. Their grading system reflects that. Their grades at these spots may end up being a little bit higher than most teams because of that philosophy.

Take Five: Instant Grade

On the positive side, Turner will learn and develop under the best position coach on the team in Ryan Nielsen. It’s also true, a team can never have enough pass rushers.

Still, skepticism surrounding this pick is understandable. It’s doubtful they went into the first-round with landing Turner as their main goal. There were moments during Turner’s press conference where even he seemed surprised he was picked as high as 28.

Plus, they still have major holes to fill.


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