Going into the 2023 NFL Draft, cornerback was one of the more popular mock draft choices for the Cincinnati Bengals. They didn’t go that route in Round 1, but they still ended up getting one of the better cornerbacks in this draft class with their Round 2 selection.
With the 60th overall pick, the Bengals went with Michigan Wolverines cornerback DJ Turner. The 5-foot-11, 178-pound Turner was one of the fastest players in the entire 2023 draft class with a 4.26 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. His 97 athleticism score at NFL.com was the second-best of any cornerback in this draft.
This past season at Michigan, Turner earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors after registering 36 tackles, 10 pass deflections, one interception, and one fumble recovery for a touchdown across 14 games for a Wolverines team that finished 13-1 and made it to the College Football Playoff, largely on the strength of their defense.
In terms of value, Turner was easily one of the best picks in Round 2. There were actually mock drafts that had the Bengals taking him in Round 1, but their patience paid off in a big way to get him late in Round 2.
- The Athletic draft guru Dane Brugler had Turner ranked 42nd overall.
- ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranked Turner 55th overall.
- The Pro Football Focus big board ranked Turner 46th overall.
- CBS Sports’ rankings had Turner coming in at 64th overall.
- ESPN’s Todd McShay had Turner ranked 56th overall.
- The 2023 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board ranked Turner 51st overall.
As for his rookie season, Turner may not have a significant role with Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, and Cam Taylor-Britt holding down the top three spots.
However, Awuzie is coming off an ACL tear suffered last October, so he’ll likely be eased back into the lineup in training camp and the preseason. That could give Turner a chance to earn more reps and potentially earn a significant role this season.
Even if that doesn’t happen, Turner could end up taking that starting boundary spot since Awuzie is slated to become a free agent in 2024.