NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The New Orleans Saints sought to restore the depth of their Edge Pass rush after losing the team’s bagman from last season to the free hand. In the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night, they chose Houston’s 28th defensive end, Payton Turner.
The decision for the 6-foot-5,270-pound gymnast comes after Saints 2020 bagman Trey Hendrickson, who had 13 1/2 bags of career height last season, left New Orleans for Cincinnati.
Although Turner only played five games for Houston last season, he had five sacks and 10 1/2 tackles for losses as well as a forced fumble.
“There were a few bumps in the road, but I think I’ve had a look at what I can do,” said Turner after the draft.
Turner took upper calf strain in 2020 and also tested positive for COVID-19 during the season.
In terms of snapshots, Turner appreciated that he was really only playing the equivalent of 3 1/2 games.
“The sample size has increased,” Turner said of his pre-draft discussions with NFL teams that interviewed him. “But I was confident in everything I filmed, everything I showed and went, and confirmed that it was a pro day. So I was confident in my abilities. “
Saints coach Sean Payton described Turner as a “high energy player” with prototypical physical characteristics in his position
“We really had this player as someone you couldn’t help but notice,” said Payton. “There were too many things that we believed would give this guy a lot of chances to do well in our league.”
Turner also played defensive tackle earlier in his college career. He said, “It really helped me just being more physically on the edge as I went on to the edge.”
Turner is now joining a roster that already has two defensive starts with 10-year-old veteran Cameron Jordan and fourth-year pro Marcus Davenport, a 2018 first-round winner whose fifth-year option was picked up on Thursday by the Saints .
Still, as a rookie, he was able to see a considerable playing time. Last season the Saints would often switch three or four lines of defense during games, and sometimes deploy a pass-rushing package with three ends together on the field.
“He’s going to play and earn these (snaps) this first year,” Payton predicted when asked how soon he expected Turner’s contributions. “We will have a clear vision for his role.
“It’s a great size, a great length. You see a powerful player. You see him play inside, “added Payton. “There were too many things that we felt really good about.”
The greater need for the saints was probably in the corner. But New Orleans couldn’t act until four of the top-rated cornerbacks in the draft were selected by other clubs.
“We think it’s our job to talk to the people in front of us and just find out their appetites,” Payton said. “So we’ve definitely phoned a number of teams in front of us. … More than half of those back then had no real interest. ”
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