Trai Turner, offensive guard, Louisiana State University.
The Panthers finally addressed the offensive line but went inside instead of outside. The issues that plagued the offense at guard last year because of injuries justify Turner's selection. His acquisition could result in a veteran presence lining up at both left and right tackle, but that will be discussed later.
He spent three years at Louisiana State University, and according to Rich Eisen during NFL Network's broadcast coverage, Turner looked to be a solid late first-round sleeper if he had stayed in school for his junior year. His game film shows his aggressiveness and how well he can keep defenders at bay.
His time in the SEC will serve him well, as he went up against top-tier competition. There is no doubt he will find his way onto the playing field, but at what capacity is unknown. He is a tough offensive lineman, having never missed a start last year. That kind of durability is probably the biggest reason why he was drafted by the Panthers.
He impressed at the combine, even earning top performer at his position for the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.93 seconds. He also displayed great strength by bench-pressing 225 pounds 25 times. There is no doubting his ability to play at the NFL level.
His scouting report at CBS Sports had this to say about him overall:
Turner is a powerful drive blocker who can dominate in the phone booth. His girth and long arms make him difficult to get around in pass protection, but a lack of balance and lateral agility make him susceptible to quick defensive tackles. Turner could have used more refining before making the jump to the NFL, but the traits to develop are in place
Fortunately, he will get some good practice against two of the league's best defensive tackles as well as fellow rookie, Kony Ealy. Granted, Turner may be a bit unpolished to be playing at the pro level, but he should make his mark when training camp opens.
Gettleman says G Trai Turner is a tough, nasty kid. “He gives us the power we’re looking for. He pulls well enough for us.”— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) May 10, 2014
In addition to mentioning Turner's ability as an offensive guard, Eisen noted that he should compete for a starting job when training camp opens. Carolina still has veteran guards in Amini Silatolu and Edmund Kugbila, but both dealt with injuries last year and missed significant playing time.
Depending on how OTAs, training camp and the preseason games go, Turner could start at offensive guard with Kugbila moving over to tackle, since he has experience at the position. He played 10 games at the position as a sophomore at Valdosta State. It wouldn't be shocking to see Carolina's offensive line comprised of Ryan Kalil (center), Silatolu (left guard), Turner (right guard), Byron Bell (left tackle) and Kugbila (right tackle).
There is no point in getting ahead of ourselves because the draft still has four more rounds and anything can happen. With the addition of Turner, the offensive line gets stronger up the middle and probably brings some stability to the unit.
Turner should be an asset in both pass protection and run blocking. That should help both facets of the offensive attack, but if he can help open lanes for the running backs and do his part to keep defensive tackles and linebackers off Cam Newton, his selection will be worth overlooking offensive tackle in Round 3.
Welcome to the Carolina Panthers, Trai Turner!
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