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Explaining the Dolphins third round pick - WR Patrick Turner

Day two of the draft didn't start out the way many Dolphin fans were anticipating.  Clearly, there were many who felt that USC wide receiver Patrick Turner was not the best value currently on the board.  And we all know that Mel Kiper wasn't a fan of the pick - probably because of how far off he was on his mock draft.  Luckily for the Dolphins, though, Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland know what they are doing.  They set their draft board and clearly stuck to it during the draft - showing the discipline of trusting their evaluations and not wavering from their plan.

So what's the plan for Turner?  Let's first talk about what Turner brings to the table physically.  He's a very big receiver, standing at over 6'5 and weighing over 220 pounds.  And he has very long arms, measuring in at over 33 inches.  He's got very good hands and, while people love to knock his speed, he does possess above-average downfield speed for a guy of his size.  At his pro day, he ran a 4.59 second 40 yard dash - which was less than one-tenth of a second slower than the more highly-touted Hakeem Nicks.

Don't get me wroing, though,  I'm not saying Turner is a down-field threat.  In fact, the biggest weakness I see in Turner's game is his ability to get in and out of his breaks quickly and create separation.  But he can compensate for that by using his big body and his strength (benched 225 pounds 21 times at his pro day - which would have been the 4th highest total among receivers at the Combine) to get open - something he didn't necessarily do in college that he'll have to improve upon at tthe next level.  But he is one of the more polished route runners coming out of the college game - which will surely help in his transition to the pro game.

For more on Turner, I figured I'd get the thoughts of somebody who has probably seen more of Turner than anyone else - Jim from Conquest Chronicles, SBN's USC blog.  Here's what he says about Turner:

Patrick Turner has some great size. Turner is strong physical and aggressive. He has good ball skills with decent hands (though it wasn't always that way). He can work off the jam and is tough, not afraid to go over the middle. Decent, but not great leaping ability. He has a lot of determination. Great foot quickness and balance as a route-runner...better than most receivers of his height. Good vision and willing to cut back inside against the grain to generate yards after the catch.

Turner runs solid routes but he is not a big deep threat. He gets caught from behind regularly. Not the physical dominator his size would indicate. Doesn't use his size and strength often enough to generate separation from undersized defenders. A preseason injury negatively affected his junior year but his senior year saw a vast improvement. He will be a solid possession receiver and a red zone threat.

He also included a video of Turner for you to check out, which you can watch by clicking here.  The one negative that stands out like a sore thumb in that video is indeed Turner's inability to create separation from the defender.  But, again, with some coaching, he can certainly learn to make up for his lack of quickness and speed.

The other knock you hear a lot about Patrick Turner is his lack of production at USC.  He was such a highly regarded recruit heading into his college career and many believe that he might have been overhyped as a high schooler.  But I see it differently.

Below are his collegiate numbers:

2005: 12-170-2
2006: 29-272-2
2007: 48-569-3
2008: 49-741-10

When I look at those numbers, I don't see poor production.  Rather, I see improvement from year to year - a sign that Patrick is yet to reach his peak.

You also need to consider who his teammates were.  In 2005, Turner was on a team that included Reggie Bush and LenDale White (who combined for over 3,000 yards rushing in '05) and receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith (who combined for over 2,100 yards receiving in '05).  Then as a sophomore, both Jarrett and Smith went over 1,000 yards receiving.  Then in 2007, Turner finally began getting a larger role in the offense.  But, still, USC was a running team - rushing the ball 64% of the time that season.  And when they passed it, the focal point of the offense was tight end Fred Davis, who had over 800 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns.

The 2008 season was the season that really saw Turner flashing the ability everyone knew he had in him.  He still wasn't the team's leading receiver, but he did account for over 20% of the Trojans' receiving production.  He also became the team's redzone star - leading the Trojans in touchdowns.

Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki writes:

USC's Patrick Turner should give the Dolphins the big possession receiver they were seeking opposite Ted Ginn Jr. for average-armed QB Chad Pennington.

That's exactly what I think the plan is for Turner.  Yes, I'm aware that we have a number of skilled possession receivers - guys like Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo.  But those guys are different than Turner.  Bess and Camarillo are better suited as slot receivers.  Turner is that big target on the outside for our quarterback.  He's also our big redzone target - something this franchise has been missing since the days of Oronde Gadsden.

The best way to sum up Turner's likely role in this offense is as a "poor man's Keyshawn Johnson."

I think all Dolphin fans would be thrilled if that's how Patrick Turner's career played out - minus the loud mouth, of course.