Last week, the Jets announced that they had signed former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Billy Turner. Today, we break down Turner in detail.
The 31-year old Turner is listed at 6’5” and 313 pounds and was a third round pick out of North Dakota State in 2014. Turner has started 75 regular season games in his NFL career, including 43 with the Packers between 2019 and 2021.
Despite being an all-state lineman as a high school prospect in Minnesota, Turner was not a highly sought-after prospect and ended up going to North Dakota State to play at the FCS level.
He was a four-year starter for the Bisons, with 56 starts in 57 games. His team won three national titles and he was a two-time all-Missouri Valley first-team selection and FCS all-American. In his senior year, he didn’t give up a sack all year and then accepted an invite to participate in the senior bowl.
The Dolphins drafted Turner early in round three of the 2014 draft, but he only made two brief appearances in his rookie year. However, he started 12 games in 2015 and then was called into action early in the 2016 season as well.
He mostly struggled with the Dolphins, though. After a particularly bad game that saw him give up three sacks against the Titans, Turner was released in the middle of the 2016 season. Baltimore claimed him but he lasted only three days with them, ending up in Denver.
Turner was with the Broncos for the rest of the 2016 season and all of the 2017 season but only played in four games and was on the field for less than 100 snaps. However, he remained with them in 2018 and played in every game, starting 11.
After having been considered a disappointment in Miami, Turner had restored his reputation with the Broncos and earned himself a four-year, $28 million deal with the Packers. Over the next three seasons, he was a full-time starter, making 43 starts in all.
The Packers released Turner ahead of the 2022 season and he was signed by the Broncos, for whom he started seven games but missed nine due to injury. The Jets added Turner last week, shortly after the Aaron Rodgers trade was confirmed.
Now let’s take a look at what Turner brings to the table, divided into categories.
Turner has a good athletic profile as his measurables are slightly above average across the board. His three cone drill was the only event where he posted a below average score. He ran a 5.16 in the 40-yard dash and posted 25 bench press reps.
Turner started off his college career at right tackle and then moved to the left for his last three seasons. At the NFL level, he’s been very versatile, starting games at every offensive line position apart from center.
For the past two years, he has been a right tackle, but back in 2020 he also started games at left tackle and right guard after having played right guard in 2019. In 2018, he played a variety of roles with the most snaps at left guard. In Miami, he had played most of his snaps at right guard.
For most of his career, Turner has given up high pressure rates, although he seems to have had more success in limiting pressure over the past few years since settling in at right tackle.
In 2015 and 2019, he gave up 14 sacks. However, in the rest of his career, he’s given up just 15 in seven years. Even though he didn’t play much in three of those seasons, that still represents almost twice as many snaps as in 2015 and 2019 combined. It’s telling that those were the only two years where he’s been a full-time guard.
Within that guard role, Turner was susceptible to bull rushes and too easily moved off his spot.
At tackle, he can allow edge rushers to leverage their way around him at times, but he seems to have more success re-anchoring against power moves and looks to be at his best when he’s being the aggressor.
Turner has his ups and downs as a run blocker, but can get out of his stance well and drive his man out of the middle from the tackle positions.
He can climb to the second level, understands how to angle his man off in space and can get a good drive on when working in combination with his teammates.
He also has the athleticism to make blocks on the move. On this play he shows an ability to pull and trap.
There are also times when Turner will overextend and allow a player to avoid or get off his block, though, and he will lose leverage battles in the trenches at times.
Turner’s teams have had some good success in recent years running behind him in short yardage situations.
He needs to be consistent with his pad level, though, because he can get stood up at the snap, although he has the upper body strength to regain some traction and gain some forward momentum.
Turner has the athletic ability to leak out in front of a screen, although he’s not always adept at finding someone to block in space.
Perhaps for that reason, his teams will often leave him in to block and let their other linemen leak out instead, but he can still make some key blocks on screen passes as he does here.
Turner has worked hard at improving his hand placement and seems to win more leverage battles these days as a result. However, edge rushers can have some success getting past him if they can get his hands off them.
In the running game, he shows excellent technique on this reach block, keeping his feet working as he works across his man’s face to secure the outside leverage advantage.
Turner’s on-field discipline has been excellent as he has never had more than four penalties in any season. In all, he has just 19 penalties in his career with nine for holding and four for illegal hands to the face. His only personal foul was a chop block.
He has five false starts in his career, including in one game for Miami where he twice jumped with the Dolphins backed up near their own end zone. One of these led to a safety, although Miami still won by one point.
Turner has only contributed as a blocker on the placekicking units during his pro career, although he has not had any mistakes or penalties within this role. He hasn’t played any special teams over the past few years, though.
Turner’s ability to play multiple positions is impressive and speaks to his football IQ and scheme familiarity.
One concern with Turner earlier on in his career was that he really seemed to struggle to pick up stunts and games when lined up inside.
Interestingly, however, he seems to handle these quite well when lined up at the tackle positions.
Something else that’s apparent from his film is that he’s adept at peeling off his initial block to find another assignment.
Turner’s father and brother were both NFL players, so he knows what it takes to be a success at this level. This has not gone unnoticed by his coaches and teammates who have praised how he sets the standard with his work ethic.
Rodgers himself singled Turner out to the rookies on the team a few years ago as someone who has a consistent approach in terms of his preparation and his constant work on his technique.
Matt LaFleur described Turner as a calming voice in the locker room and said that he takes care of his body, while his offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who he followed to Denver and now reunites with in New York, called him an unsung hero during their Packers days.
On the field, Turner can show some nastiness in his finishing and can go “looking for work” in pass protection at times.
Turner had been durable for most of his career but he hurt his knee during the 2021 season. Although he toughed it out and still started 13 games, Turner had to undergo a scope at the end of the season and this still limited him in 2022. He began the year on the PUP list and then was banged up all year before ending up on injured reserve.
The good news is that Turner says he’s fully recovered and currently feeling the best he has in two years.
He otherwise has only had minor injuries apart from a broken hand that landed him on injured reserve in 2017.
As noted, Turner is reuniting with Hackett. The pair will be together for a fifth consecutive season in 2023. Rodgers also spoke highly of him, suggesting he felt he could have been a pro bowler in 2021.
Aside from Rodgers, Turner also reunites with several former Packers teammates: Tim Boyle, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Adam Pankey and Malik Taylor. He’s also been a teammate of Will Parks and Connor McGovern while in Denver and he was CJ Mosley’s teammate with the Ravens, albeit for just three days.
His versatility is potentially useful, but it seems clear from his career arc that his best position is right tackle and he should probably focus on that spot. Between Turner, Cedric Ogbuehi and Max Mitchell, there are a few potential options to win that job.
The Jets definitely like Mitchell as a long-term starting option but have also said they want to get the best five on the field which might suggest that the loser of the Mekhi Becton/Duane Brown left tackle competition could end up as the starting right tackle. However, if Rodgers gets to cast his vote, maybe Turner has the inside track on that spot.
For most of his career Turner looked like a substandard fringe starter but over the past few years, he’s quietly established himself as a reliable starter-level player. While some of that is just settling into his role and the product of his dedication and professional approach, it seems likely that he just wasn’t as comfortable as a guard and has benefited from a long-term run as a starting tackle.
He brings depth and versatility to a group which Joe Douglas is determined to make sturdy enough to overcome any injury issues they might encounter in 2023 after what happened last year. Unless they get perfect health ahead of him, it’s virtually inevitable that Turner will play a role at some point.
At least we know Rodgers and Hackett completely trust him, which is significant and positive.