Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles has shown through his first two Drafts that with the premium rounds, he is going to select premier positions, meaning offensive line, defensive line corners, and safeties. The one position along the defensive line that he hasn't used a premium pick on is defensive end. The Bears starting defensive end duo of Yannick Ngakoue and DeMarcus Walker were acquired via veteran free agency, and only Walker has a multi-year contract, while Ngaqoue is on a one-year contract.
Just looking at that, it becomes obvious that Poles will use at least one of his premium round selections on an edge player.
Going into the 2023 College Football season, it looked as if the Edge class would be very strong, and it still may be, but to date, the group as a whole has not played up to expectations. The exception to that is Alabama defensive end/linebacker Dallas Turner. Tuner started out the season slow, just like most of the other pass rushers, but in the last four games, he has really come on. Through six games, he has 6.5 sacks, with all of them coming in the last four games. Three of those games were against tough SEC competition. If Turner continues to play like he has the last month, he will be the odds-on favorite to be the first pass rusher off the Board.
Dallas Turner is a third-year player who was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was recruited by the top college football programs in the country. As a freshman, he earned Freshman All-American honors by playing in all 15 games with three starts. Last year, he was a starter opposite Will Anderson, who was the third pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. This year, he is also the starter.
While Turner's play was strong last year opposite Anderson, the main concern I had going into this season was how he would react and play to be Alabama's main pass rusher. Last year, Anderson was the player opposing offenses accounted for, and to do that, they consistently double-teamed him. Turner was bound to get that same treatment this year.
In the opening game this year, Turner did not play much as 'Bama won easily 56-7. It was basically a "pre-season game." The following week versus Texas, he did not get a sack but did get numerous pressures in a 34-24 loss. He was exposed to double teams often, something he didn't have to play against a year ago.
With a game of getting constantly doubled out his way, he adjusted and has played very well ever since. As I wrote above, he has 6.5 sacks in the last four games. It's safe to say he will record double-digit sacks before the season ends.
In the Alabama scheme, Turner is referred to as a linebacker, but he is always on the line of scrimmage. He plays both standing up and in a 3-point stance. He will drop into coverage a few times a game, but his main job is to set the edge and rush the passer.
Turner is listed as 6'4 – 242, but he looks bigger. I would say he is at least 250 and probably a little more. He is well-built with a strong looking lower body. For a big man, he has exceptional overall athleticism and very good speed. I would estimate that he will run in the 4.60 range at the Combine.
Dallas plays with good strength and can be very explosive. I feel it's fair to say that he is more explosive than Will Anderson was, as well as being a step faster. Where he has improved this year over last is he is playing the run much better. He is quick off the ball, explosive on contact, and quick to shed. He shows strong hands and good hand use. He seldom lets an offensive lineman tie him up. What's nice is that he can beat a lineman with speed, quickness, or power. As a pass rusher, he has a very quick first step and stays low. His overall flexibility is excellent, and he shows that bend and dip when coming off the edge. His body control is such that he re-directs quickly, and that enables him to use a variety of moves. Turner is by no means a one-trick pony when it comes to rushing the passer. He has a plan and knows how to mix up his pass rush attempts.
What jumps out is his pursuit speed. He can consistently catch plays from behind. Overall, Dallas Turner should easily be a Top-5 selection in next April's Draft and be a plug-and-play prospect. He is exactly what the Chicago Bears need — a young pass rusher on a rookie contract!