NFL draft: Dallas Turner likes to hit quarterbacks

Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) reacts after stopping the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half of the SEC Championship football game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, on Saturday, December 2, 2023. (Hyosub Shin /



Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) reacts after stopping the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half of the SEC Championship football game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, on Saturday, December 2, 2023. (Hyosub Shin /

Here’s the seventh story of our position-by-position NFL draft series. Today, we’ll look at the top inside and outside linebackers.

The Falcons’ inability to rush opposing passers has been well documented.

There’s an apparent solution to part of the problem in the coming NFL draft, which is set to be held April 25-27 in Detroit, in the form of linebacker Dallas Turner, an elite pass rusher.

Just about every mock draft in the nation has Turner, a former Alabama standout, coming to the Falcons with the eighth overall draft pick. However, he had a visit with the Cardinals, who hold the fourth overall pick and have a pass-rush that trailed the Falcons by nine sacks last season.

Turner, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, played three seasons for the Crimson Tide. He finished his career with 22.5 sacks and had 15 tackles for losses last season. Turner would leap into one of the Falcons’ outside linebackers spot in the 3-4 alignment that new coach Raheem Morris and defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake are implementing.

Turner has an overall 6.71 grade by, which projects him as a Year One starter. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds and 4.46 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, which was faster than former Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who ran a 4.54 at the 2016 scouting combine.

Turner also had a 40.5-inch vertical jump.

“It would be an honor,” Turner said about possibly being the first edge rusher selected in the draft.

At the scouting combine, Turner was in heavy demand. He met with 12 teams on the first night, including the Falcons.

“The meeting with the Falcons was great,” Turner said. “I had a good conversation with coaches and stuff like that, so it would be a good experience.”

Turner would be a perfect fit for the Falcons.

“Everything about him screams a 10-plus-sack-a-year guy,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, who has been the expert analyst for the network’s draft coverage since 1984.

Kiper has the Falcons selecting Turner in his latest mock draft. The Falcons missed out on free-agent defensive end Danielle Hunter, who took his 87.5 career sacks to the Texans. The Falcons must also replace the production from Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree, who accounted for 13 of their 42 sacks last season.

Both have not re-signed and remain free agents, with Campbell considering retirement.

All 32 NFL teams were present at AIabama’s Pro Day, including coaches Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Mike McCarthy (Cowboys), Antonio Pierce (Raiders) and Brian Callahan (Titans) and general managers Brad Holmes (Lions), Brian Gutekunst (Packers) and Ran Carthon (Titans).

Turner had 32.5 tackles for loss over his career with the Crimson Tide.

“He was relentless,” Kiper said. “He developed the secondary move.”

The Falcons haven’t had a double-digit sack player since Vic Beasley had 15.5 in 2016.

Turner is considered a better option than Florida State’s Jared Verse and UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, who are defensive ends, as pass rushers. Latu has a neck injury that will scare off some teams.

Turner had to find his optimum playing weight at Alabama.

“The weight journey at Alabama was crazy,” Turner said. “Coming in I was 260 pounds, but that was a COVID-19 260 pounds. I fluctuated. I played my freshman year at 240, my sophomore year at 245 and my junior year at 255, which probably the best weight I had was my junior year.”

Turner had a key third-down sack of Georgia quarterback Carson Beck in Alabama’s 27-24 win in the SEC title game that snapped the Bulldogs’ 29-game win streak on Dec. 2. The Bulldogs went on to miss the field goal attempt after Turner’s sack.

“Probably my ability, my explosiveness, my versatility of being able to play off the ball and be on the ball as well,” Turner said when describing his pass-rush repertoire. “There’s many things that make me the player on the field.”

Turner played with Chris Braswell last season and with Will Anderson, the former Dutchtown High and AJC Super 11 star, who was drafted third overall by the Texans last season.

“Honestly, every single day, first of all, we’re close off the field and have a lot of fun, but we learn (from) each other,” Turner said. “All three of us are different, and we kind of took bits and pieces from each other and fit them into the games we have.”

Turner has tried to contain his enthusiasm when he’s on the field, but he’s a fierce hitter.

“That’s how I play,” Turner said. “I’m not trying to be dirty with my hits. I just play between the whistles and play at 100 percent.”


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TIGHT ENDS -- Ex-Georgia standout Brock Bowers is the top tight end | Top 10 TEs

QUARTERBACKS -- After Caleb Williams, is Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye the next quarterback? | Top 10 QBs

OFFENSIVE LINE -- Mims, Van Pran-Granger could help NFL teams in the trenches | Top 5 C, OG, OTs

DEFENSIVE LINE -- T’Vondre Sweat’s recent arrest will impact his status | Top 5 DTs, DEs





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RUNNING BACKS – Running backs Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs may have to wait to hear their names called | Top 10 RBs

TIGHT ENDS – Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer heads a dee TE class | Top 10 TEs

QUARTERBACKS – Bryce Young’s small stature no longer an issue in the NFL | Top 10 QBs

OFFENSIVE LINE – Skoronski’s short arm length being scrutinized for left tackle | Top 5 C,G, &OTs

DEFENSIVE LINE – Is Jalen Carter the real deal or a potential bust? | Top 5 DTs, DEs

LINEBACKERS – Dutchtown’s Will Anderson expected to go in the top 5 of NFL draft | Top LBs

CORNERBACKS – Former Georgia standout Kelee Ringo one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL draft | Top CBs

SAFETIES – Alabama’s Brian Branch, Jordan Battle are top safeties in the NFL draft | Top FS/SS

SPECIAL TEAMS – Michigan’s Jake Moody hopes to kick way to NFL draft | Top STs

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