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Head Turner for Cardinals at Combine?

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By: Walter Mitchell

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Eye popping numbers from Dallas Turner appeared to make GM Monti Ossenfort giddy

For months now droves of Cardinals’ fans have been making the assumption that if Ohio WR Marvin Harrison Jr. is on the board at pick #4, then Monti Ossenfort will rush the pick to the podium.

Not so fast —- because Alabama OLB Dallas Turner may have just rushed his name to the podium whether the Cardinals stay at #4 or trade down within range of selecting an explosive pass rusher who arguably would fill the team’s greatest need heading into the 2024 season.

When one takes a close look at how the Cardinals were playing down the stretch last year, the offense was putting up the 9th highest number of total yards in the NFL over the final eight games. it averaged 22.7 points per game.

Not only was the Cardinals running game thriving to the tune of finishing as the #4 top rushing offense in the NFL —- down the stretch Kyler Murray developed impressive chemistry with TEs Trey McBride and Elijah Higgins, plus WRs Michale Wilson and Greg Dortch.

Heading into this season, the Cardinals return every starter on an offense that played its best football at Philadelphia versus the Eagles and at home versus the Seahawks —- every one except for LG Elijah Wilkinson.

Alas, D.J. Humphries was lost in the Philly game to a torn ACL, but the offense didn’t miss a beat with Kelvin Beachum as “the next man up.” Beachum, who is signed for 2024, is a valuable asset because he is still playing at a high level, he’s been the most durable offensive lineman on the team for the past four seasons and can be counted on to be a solid starter or to serve as he so admirably last year as the swing tackle.

The kicker is —- this a draft that is particularly deep at WR and offensive tackle.

This draft is not nearly as deep at Edge rushers and defensive tackles.

Over the last eight games, the Cardinals defense recorded only 1 sack over its last 6 games, and the one sack was when Dennis Gardeck chased Justin Fields out of bounds for a one-yard loss. Over the last eight games the Cardinals defense gave up 26.5 points per game, including the stinging 4 play 65-yard game winning drive that Geno Smith, Tyler Lockett and the Seahawks faceplanted on the Cardinals defense, all in a matter of 1 minute and 2 seconds.

This kind of defensive meltdowns have to stop.

If the team really wants to help out the team —- how about giving the players a defense that can actually close out tight games.

The Cardinals with Drew Petzing are forming a prolific ball control offense that is built to win time of possession and wear defenses down. What ball control offenses typically create are close games in the 4th quarter.

How many close games have the Cardinals lost in the 4th quarter the past two and a half seasons because the defense couldn’t protect the lead? Far too many —- to where it feels like automatic that the defense under pressure will fold like a house of cards in the wind.

What is the best way to close out 4th quarter wins?

Sacking the QB.

Creating the big turnover.

Word from Moni Ossenfort from the Combine is that the team is keeping Zaven Collins (30 tackles, 11 assists, 3.5 sacks and 30 pressures) at SOLB again this year. The odds of Ossenfort electing to pick up Collins’ 5th year option are slim to none and slim just left Steak 44.

Dennis Gardeck, who led the Cardinals in sacks (6) and QB pressures (42) is in heading into the final year of his contract.

B.J. Ojulari, the team’s 2nd round pick in 2023, after missing training camp, came back from a knee injury, got off to a solid start (40 tackles, 4 sacks and 20 QB pressures), but hit the rookie wall over the last 6 games.

Meanwhile, Will Anderson Jr., the prize edge dynamo whom the Cardinals elected to trade to the Texans, posted 43 tackles, 8 sacks and a whopping 68 QB pressures, an as a result, was named the NFL’s 2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year.

By selecting Anderson’s former teammate Dallas Turner, the Cardinals can make up for missing out on Anderson in 2023.

As Dallas Turner showed the world yesterday, that physically he is a keg of dynamite.

Dallas Turner’s 2023 stats at Alabama:(Will Amderson Jr’s in 2022)

  • Tackles: 53 —- (WAJ —- 51)
  • Tackles for loss:14.5 —- (WAJ —- 17.0)
  • Sacks: 10 —- (WAJ —- 10)
  • QB Pressures; 55 —- (WAJ —- 66)
  • Pass Rush Win Rate: 19.7% (ranked 9th in FBS) —- (WAJ —- 24.1%)
  • Forced Fumbles: 2 —- (WAJ —- 1)

1st in Class:

Feast your eyes on these highlights:

Click here to see Monti Ossenfort’s reaction to Dallas Turner’s 4.47 40 time:


Seeing Monti’s reaction to Dallas Turner’s 40 time and being reminded of what a freak athlete Dallas Turner is has my head spinning —- because of how desperately the Cardinals need to add bona fide, athletic and quick-twitch playmakers to a defense that finished 32nd in DVOA,

So, just to be sure, I felt compelled to go watch more tape of Dallas Turner.

I am very glad that I did. Here’s how I would grade him.

  • Edge Rush Speed to Power: A-
  • Edge Rush Technique and Counter Moves: C+
  • Run Defense: C- (low run stop rate of 4.2%)
  • Tackling: C (missed tackle rate of 21%)
  • Pass Coverage: A-

Conclusion —- the physical talents are top 10 worthy, but the quality of his play at Alabama was inconsistent, which makes his stock as a top 12 pick questionable.

Dallas Turner’s quick—-footed get-off on his pass rush is fantastic. There are two main problems, however. The first he is consistently gets steered far too wide of the QB —- which creates wide open holes for the QB to step into or bolt from into the open field as Joe Milton (TEN) did a few occasions —- you need a very athletic DT next to Turner who can shed his block and not let the QB run free.

Secondly, because Turner lacks counter moves, once he gets steered wide of the QB he sometimes gives up on the play and doesn’t go immediately into chase mode.

When Nick Saban called on Turner to cover RBs, Turner shined in that role, most impressively against speed RBs.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been conversing with Dennis Kelly and William Yanish III of FIRST ROUND MOCK.

Dennis Kelly was a scout under Bill Parcells with the Jets. He pulls no punches.

In this draft, his top rated QB is Spencer Rattler (as has been all season). He does not have high grades on the top 3. And, quite frankly, I agree with him. Too many question marks about attitude (Williams), inconsistency (Maye) and slim frame/happy feet (Daniels).

Thus, I wanted to see whether Dennis had posted his scouting report on Dallas Turner. Yep. It conformed what I was seeing, practically to a tee.

For the sake of contrast —- here is Dennis’ evaluation of Brock Bowers:

This Dawg is Fitz (zone beater deluxe) and Q (YAC dynamo) combined, and he’s a tad faster!

Would love to see Chop Robinson (Penn St.) or 34 DE Braden Fiske (Florida St.) at pick #27. They too have been turning heads.

Originally posted on Revenge Of The Birds