Dallas Turner

NFL Draft Rumors: Falcons, Jaguars, Browns

The Falcons top two sack-getters last year (Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree) are currently free agents. And while free safety Jessie Bates‘ first season in Atlanta went swimmingly with career highs in tackles (132), forced fumbles (3), and interceptions (6), as well as Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors, he seemed to be the only player showing up each Sunday for the Falcons.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise to hear that adding draft prospects on the defensive side of the ball is expected to be a major focus for Atlanta come this week’s draft, according to Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network. In Caplan’s most recent mock draft, he slotted Alabama pass rusher Dallas Turner as the team’s first-round pick. Previous iterations of his mock draft saw Atlanta taking Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins and Florida State pass rusher Jared Verse.

Going pass rusher seems to make more sense after losing Campbell and Dupree to free agency, but expect multiple picks throughout the three-day event to address both positions. Turner is likely the preferred option as most see him as the top pass rusher on the board, but Verse or even UCLA’s Laiatu Latu could be the selection if Turner is drafted before they have the chance to claim him.

Here are a few other draft rumors from around the NFL:

Draft Rumors: 49ers, Corley, Commanders, Bears, Alt, Giants, Eagles, Seahawks, Steelers, Vikings, Lions

No Brandon Aiyuk trade request has emerged yet, separating this situation from the Deebo Samuel saga from 2022. Samuel receiving an extension later that year complicates matters for Aiyuk, who has needed to wait longer to enter extension territory due to being a former first-round pick. As this remains a storyline to monitor ahead of the draft, the 49ers scheduled a notable visit. Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley stopped through team headquarters, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz, just before the deadline for “30” visits this week.

Playing a role in the Hilltoppers’ Bailey Zappe-led aerial fireworks in 2021, Corley enjoyed a more prominent position in the mid-major team’s passing attack over the past two years — each 11-touchdown campaigns. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein threw out Samuel as a comp for Corley, who is projected to be a second-round pick. Though, he will be unlikely to be available by the time San Francisco’s No. 63 slot arrives. With big-ticket expenses at three other skill-position spots (and Brock Purdy eligible for a re-up in 2025), the 49ers have a major decision to make with Aiyuk soon.

Here is the latest from the draft ranks:

  • The Giantsquarterback-or-wide receiver decision at No. 6 figures to be one of this draft’s most important, but the team did bring in some first-round prospects who do not play those positions. Tackle Joe Alt and edge rusher Dallas Turner visited the team recently, per the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz. Highly unlikely to draft Turner due to the Brian Burns trade and Kayvon Thibodeaux‘s status, the Giants could conceivably consider Alt. The All-American Notre Dame left tackle would need to be moved to the right side, however, and Schwartz reaffirms a recent report that indicates the team has not given up on keeping 2022 No. 7 overall pick Evan Neal at tackle.
  • Now that Cooper DeJean went through a workout following a broken fibula suffered in November, a few teams brought him in for visits. The Iowa cornerback met with the Bills previously, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes the Seahawks, Steelers and Eagles hosted the talented cover man on “30” visits before Wednesday’s deadline. Our Ely Allen recently examined the first-round-caliber CB’s prospect stock.
  • Staying at corner, both the Vikings and Lions brought in the well-traveled Terrion Arnold for pre-draft visits, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. The Alabama corner, who slots as the top player at the position (No. 9 overall) on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board, also met with the Cardinals, Titans, Falcons and Jaguars during the draft run-up. The Lions, whose CB situation changed after the Cameron Sutton arrest/release, also brought in Arnold teammate Kool-Aid McKinstry recently.
  • Penn State edge rusher Chop Robinson, he of a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, made two more visits before visit season ended. The Bears and Commanders brought in the intriguing DE prospect, Rapoport adds. In need of D-end help after trading Montez Sweat to the Bears, the Commanders hold the No. 40 pick as a result of that trade. Washington carries Nos. 36 and 40, while Chicago does not have a second-round pick this year. Linked to a potential WR-or-Brock Bowers call at No. 9, the Bears may not be in the value range for Robinson, whom Jeremiah slots as this draft’s No. 21 overall talent.
  • The Seahawks met with Bo Nix and have a clear connection to Michael Penix Jr., with new OC Ryan Grubb having coached the latter at Washington. With Geno Smith on a flexible contract that runs through 2025, Seattle brought in South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler for a pre-deadline visit, per Schultz. Slotted as the No. 7 QB on Mel Kiper Jr.’s ESPN.com big board, Rattler met with the Giants this week as well. The former Oklahoma recruit earned Senior Bowl MVP honors in January.

Vikings, Chargers, Cardinals To Host Dallas Turner

As one of the top defensive prospects in the 2024 class, edge rusher Dallas Turner unsurprisingly has a busy schedule in the build-up to the draft. Having already lined up visits with the Falcons and Bears, he is also on the radar of three other interested teams.

Turner is visiting the Vikings today, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports. He adds Turner also has ‘top 30’ trips set up with the Chargers and Cardinals. Those teams own a total of four first-round picks, including three of the first 11 selections.

The Alabama product is widely regarded as the top edge rushing prospect available, something which has frequently led to top-10 connections. The Falcons in particular have become a frequent landing spot in many mock drafts, in large part because of Atlanta’s need to make additions along the edge. That scenario would lead to Turner hearing his name called eighth overall, after the Cardinals and Chargers’ selections but before the Vikings’.

Minnesota – a team which is also hosting DT Byron Murphy today – saw both Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum depart in free agency. While Jonathan Greenard (who signed a four-year, $76MM deal) will fill one starting spot along the edge, the Vikings could use another notable addition during the draft. Of course, the team has instead been most closely connected to a QB selection, something which would likely entail moving up the draft order. If Turner were to make it out of the top 10, though, he could be in the Vikings’ plans.

Arizona and Los Angeles own picks No. 4 and 5, although both are known to be available in a trade for the right price Each team is in the market for a receiver, and the top prospects at that position will be on the board if the first three selections go as expected with quarterbacks hearing their names called. The Cardinals (who have been busy on the ’30 visit’ front recently) have made a number of moves on the defensive line this offseason, but after finishing 30th in sacks last year the team will likely make edge additions a draft priority.

Faced with a significant cap crunch in his first offseason at the helm, Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz elected to keep both Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa in the fold on restructured contracts. That will give the team a pair of established starters on the edge, a contrast to the receiver position as things currently stand. Especially if Los Angeles elects to move down the board slightly, though, Turner could be in consideration for Hortiz and Co.

The 2023 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Turner posted a career-high 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last season. Those figures helped earn him All-American acclaim as he took over from Will Anderson as the Crimson Tide’s lead edge rusher. He will face high expectations right away during his rookie season in the NFL, and his first pro team will no doubt be among those spending considerable time evaluating him as part of their draft preparation.

Bears Host QB Caleb Williams, DE Dallas Turner, T Tyler Guyton

As the draft continues to draw closer, NFL teams are turning their attention to visits with prospects on their radar. In the case of the Bears, that process included a trio of noteworthy names in position to be selected at or near the top of the board meeting with the team.

[RELATED: Bears To Host WR Rome Odunze]

Quarterback Caleb Williams was among the prospects which met with Chicago on Wednesday, as noted by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. That comes as no surprise, as the 2022 Heisman winner has long been the presumed selection at No. 1 overall. Especially with Justin Fields having been traded, Williams is on track to hear his name called first and immediately take on starting duties for the Bears.

Breer adds that Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner and Oklahoma offensive tackle Tyler Guyton also met with the Bears’ brass yesterday. The former is widely regarded as the top prospect at his position in the 2024 class, one which is generally dominated at the top of the board by players on the offensive side of the ball. Turner – who won the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2023 to go along with first-team All-American honors – is firmly on the top-10 radar.

Turner has already been linked to the Falcons, a team in need of edge rush help. Atlanta owns the eighth overall pick, while Chicago’s second selection is set at No. 9. In the event Turner were to make it past the Falcons, he would could be a reasonable target for a Bears defense seeking to find a complement for 2023 trade acquisition Montez Sweat. The latter is attached to the four-year, $98MM deal he signed upon arrival in the Windy City, so a starter-level addition on their rookie contract would be a financially sound one on the part of the Bears.

Guyton, meanwhile, is one of many offensive tackles which have been expected to come off the board some time in Round 1. Some prospects at the position have received better evaluations, but the former TCU transfer possesses intriguing athletic upside. Guyton played all-but exclusively at right tackle with the Sooners, a position which the Bears addressed during the first round of last year’s draft (Darnell Wright). Guyton could be viewed as a developmental option capable of transitioning to the blindside, though.

While the Bears control the very top of the board, their decision at No. 9 will of course be dictated in part by those of the teams around them in the order. Their evaluation of potential targets over the next few days could signal their intentions with the first post-Williams selection.

Falcons Were Interested In Top Defensive FAs; More On Kirk Cousins’ Decision

On the day before the 2024 league year opened, the Falcons agreed to a four-year, $180MM deal with former Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, a deal that will pay the 35-year-old passer (36 in August) $50MM in guaranteed money. Even if Atlanta had not signed Cousins, the club was still prepared to make a major free agent splash.

Albert Breer of SI.com, in a piece that is well-worth a read for fans of the Falcons and Vikings in particular, explores in considerable detail how Cousins came to sign with Atlanta, beginning with the February 2022 meeting between the quarterback, his agent, and Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell, whom the Vikes had just hired. While most of Breer’s writing focuses on the discussions, both football and contractual, between Cousins’ camp and Vikings brass and then between Cousins’ camp and Falcons brass, he does note that Atlanta had interest in top defensive free agents Danielle Hunter — another long-time member of the Vikings — and Christian Wilkins.

Per Breer, if the Falcons had not been successful in their pursuit of Cousins or another high-priced FA signal-caller like Baker Mayfield, they would have spent their money on defense, with Hunter and Wilkins named as potential targets. Mayfield had agreed to a new contract with the Bucs while Cousins was still in limbo, so Atlanta GM Terry Fontenot spoke with the agents for Hunter and Wilkins in case he would have to address his QB position via a trade for a player like Justin Fields or via the draft. He was told that both players would fetch at least $25MM per year, which turned out to be pretty accurate. Fontenot also explored the possibility of trading up into the top-three of the draft to land a blue-chip collegiate quarterback, though the teams holding those selections (the Bears, Commanders, and Patriots) were not interested in dealing, at least not that early in the process.

Ultimately, Cousins chose to sign with the Falcons, and Atlanta subsequently bolstered his pass-catching contingent by authorizing a notable contract for wide receiver Darnell Mooney and sending displaced quarterback Desmond Ridder to the Cardinals in exchange for slot man Rondale Moore. Without a high-end QB contract on their books, it was the Vikings who pivoted to the defensive side of the ball, adding Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Blake Cashman in quick succession while bidding farewell to Hunter.

Shortly after Cousins decided to make the move to Atlanta, he said the team simply seemed more prepared than Minnesota to commit to him on a long-term basis. Indeed, Breer reports that while the Vikings did improve their offer to Cousins as negotiations went on by putting more guaranteed money on the table, it was the structure of those guarantees that swung the pendulum in the Falcons’ favor. The Vikings’ proposals always gave them the ability to part ways with Cousins in 2025 without many financial ramifications, and Cousins ultimately felt he was being viewed as a bridge to a passer that the team would select in next month’s draft.

The Falcons’ deal, on the other hand, guarantees all of Cousins’ 2025 base salary of $27.5MM, effectively tethering player and team to each other for the next two seasons. Atlanta can realistically get out of the deal in 2026, at which point Cousins’ cap number skyrockets to $57.5MM. Still, he will at least have an NFL home beyond the upcoming campaign, which was clearly a top priority for him.

Having devoted so many resources to their offense, Fontenot & Co. will have to turn their attention to the draft to address a defense that finished 24th in DVOA and 21st in sacks in 2023. To that end, the team has scheduled a predraft visit with Alabama edge defender Dallas Turner, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports. The Vikings and Bears will also visit with Turner, who could be the first defensive player off the board.

Alabama’s Dallas Turner To Enter 2024 Draft

Following Will Anderson‘s climb from SEC Defensive Player of the Year to No. 3 overall pick in the draft, one of his former Crimson Tide pass-rushing sidekicks will leave school early as well.

Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year this season, Dallas Turner, said after Alabama’s overtime loss to Michigan tonight he will enter the draft early, ESPN.com’s Alex Scarborough tweets. Considering the likelihood of Turner becoming a first-round pick, this is an unsurprising choice.

Mel Kiper Jr.’s most recent ESPN big board slots Turner 11th overall. These placements regularly change between the end of a season and the draft, but Turner is coming off a strong junior season. The ex-Anderson wingman finished with 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss this season, becoming an All-American. Turner, who forced two fumbles this season, posted a sack in Alabama’s CFP semifinal loss tonight.

Turner’s DPOY honor gives Nick Saban’s program four such achievements over the past four years. Anderson and Patrick Surtain collected the honor from 2020-22, with the former being named as such twice. Turner, UCLA’s Laiatu Latu and Florida State’s Jared Verse reside as the early top-tier edge defenders in the 2024 class. Both the Bruins and Seminoles standouts have already declared for the draft.

Turner combined for 60 QB pressures from 2021-22, doing so as Anderson accumulated 130 during his dominant run that led to his move to Houston. As a freshman in 2021, Turner totaled 8.5 sacks. The 6-foot-4 edge defender finished the regular season 12th in Division I-FBS pressure rate. Alabama’s 2020s draft imprint has skewed a bit more toward offense, despite Surtain and Anderson’s arrivals, but Turner will likely check a box on the defensive side upon being chosen in Round 1 come April.