Jul 26, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings helmet sits in the grass during training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Bohl has built an amazing program at NDSU. Three straight FCS national championships and an upset of the Gophers back in Jerry Kill’s first year are testament to that. One guy off NDSU’s three-time-championship roster in particular has NFL scouts sitting up and taking notice. That’s offensive lineman Billy Turner.
Turner is at the Senior Bowl this week, and he is once again turning heads. Here’s a quick sampling of what the experts are saying about the 6-5 tackle/guard after day one of Senior Bowl practice:
Rob Rang: As impressive as [Ju’Wuan] James was, arguably the most impressive offensive lineman of the day was North Dakota State’s Billy Turner, who possesses a very similar build at 6-foot-5, 316 pounds. Unlike James, Turner struggles a bit with leverage, bending at the waist rather than the knees but he has strong hands and is a good athlete who projects as a quality NFL starter with a little refinement. His upside could push Turner into the top 100 picks, if he isn’t there already.
Dan Kadar: North Dakota State offensive lineman Billy Turner fit right in with his FBS competition. Turner is a powerful blocker and it showed. He lined up at multiple positions and was as effective at guard as he was at tackle.
Eric Galko: North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner struggled with his leverage and blocking posture throughout the practice, but really stood out with his hand strength strike. At tackle, he displayed adequate foot speed but he’ll need to correct waist-bending issues.
Josh Norris: Billy Turner will get yelled at for tech, but his functional strength is great. Like that he’s getting snaps at G too.
Dane Brugler: Zack Martin is my top OL prospect in Mobile but NDSU OL Billy Turner might be my No. 2. Powerful hands and mean. Love this kid.
Lance Zierlein: Jaguars offensive line coach George Yarno got into Turner with a butt-chewing a couple of times as Turner failed to execute basic functions of the one on one drill. Turner bounced back with good one on one pass pro reps against Deandre Coleman and Brent Urban and handled himself well in the scrimmage portion at tackle and guard. I’m excited to see how Turner continues to progress under the watchful eye of Yarno.
As you can see, it wasn’t all positive for Turner. Michael DiRocco of ESPN thought Turner had a hard time with some speedy SEC edge rushers in one-on-one drills, but he chalked that up to the step up in competition and a long layoff.
The question for Turner is whether he will be a tackle in the NFL or have to move inside and play guard. The Vikings right now are set at tackle, with Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt both locked in for years to come, but guard is an area of significant need. Turner could be a 3rd or 4th round target for Minnesota as a guard.