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DJ Turner tabbed Bengals’ best 2023 draft pick

The young corner could easily live up to the hype.

2022 Big Ten Conference Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Immediate reactions are nothing new for NFL Draft cycles. It is almost a certainty that many writers, fans and analysts will live to regret whatever hyperbole take they have on whatever prospect coming out.

However, the act of determining whether a player was a good draft pick for a team based on value, need and the player’s overall ability is a bit safer to protect yourself from the harsh rays of hindsight.

ESPN’s draft expert Todd McShay recently selected DJ Turner as the Cincinnati Bengals’ best pick from this draft, and it is easy to see why:

There was some buzz that Turner could go in the first round in the weeks leading into the draft, but the Bengals landed him in the final picks of the second round. Position of need? Check. Excellent value? Check. And talent? Check again.

Turner blazed a 4.26 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, the fastest time for the event this year. I see an outstanding combination of speed, suddenness and fluid movement on tape, and he can mirror receivers so well, recognizing route combos and sticking with them like glue. He won’t be the biggest corner in the league at 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds, and he picked off only one pass last season, but he has the traits to be a solid starter in Cincinnati. And I actually think the ball production could improve in the pros because of how well he closes on targets.

The Bengals lucked out when Turner fell to their second-round selection. He is a player who could have gone from the late first or early second, and whatever team picking him would likely still get this praise.

Many have pointed out that Turner doesn’t fit the recent mold of corners Cincinnati has been acquiring. It seemed like they were going the route of bigger corners who could play zone coverage. However, Turner could easily fit in with Chidobe Awuzie and Cam Taylor-Britt, who are both roughly 6’ and 200 pounds. That is roughly 20 pounds more than Turner, but he is a year behind Taylor-Britt.

The thing Cincinnati missed last season when Awuzie went down on Halloween was a corner who could man up on an opposing wide receiver and instantly make that throw a difficult one on a cornerback. Eli Apple was a good depth piece, but he could be a liability against certain matchups and schemes since he’d be in zone coverage more often than not. Turner adds some depth to that idea as well as allowing them to keep that when Awuzie likely gets priced out of being re-signed.

We haven’t even gotten to talk about how Turner may end up being the best man-to-man corner from this draft. His insane athletic makeup included running a 4.26-second 40-yard dash, and it is easy to see during the film. Even if Turner gets beat, his ability to catch up to the point of the catch is absolutely unfair.

It is safe to say Turner will quickly become a fan favorite among Bengals fans.