High School and College Career
DJ Turner was a 3-star recruit from IMG Academy High School in Florida prior to joining the Michigan Wolverines football program.
In his freshman year, Turner only played one game, where he made 11 snaps as a cornerback for the Wolverines.
As a sophomore in 2021, Turner played in 14 games, a significant increase from the previous year, and logged an impressive 620 snaps for the Wolverines. He proved to be a valuable player on the team, making 34 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, and an elite QB rating when targeted of just 54.8.
In 2022, Turner continued to grow as a player, playing in 13 games and contributing 680 snaps. He managed to make 28 tackles, forced 7 pass breakups and one interception. With a QB rating when targeted of 65.5.
D.J. Turner Scouting Report Introduction
DJ Turner has established himself as the top cornerback in the Michigan Wolverines’ defense thanks to his impressive athleticism and competitiveness. Turner helped lead his team to the state championship in 2017, and was named the Defensive Player of the Game for his efforts. He was also recognized as one of the top 20 athletic recruits after participating in the finals of the Nike Opening.
Turner’s collegiate career began with him spending time as a special teamer during his freshman and sophomore seasons. However, as a junior in 2021, he started to earn more playing time on defense and starts. By the 2022 season, he had become the undisputed starting outside cornerback for Michigan.
One of the key aspects of Turner’s game is his elite athleticism, which allows him to be an irritant for opposing wide receivers. He possesses excellent deep speed, along with quick and light feet that enable him to easily mirror and match his assignment. His patience and instincts are also noteworthy, especially in man-to-man coverage, where he has shown the ability to run with pretty much every receiver he has faced. Turner’s coverage is best described as “sticky,” with him often being seen in the hip pocket of opposing receivers, able to blanket even the most talented of them. He is an ultimate competitor, always looking to play the ball and the receiver’s hands and to force pass breakups.
Turner is also no slouch in zone coverage, as his drops are properly aligned with his coverage responsibilities. His football IQ comes to the forefront as he squeezes routes to eliminate the quarterback’s options before making a play on anything threatening his zone. He does a great job of baiting the quarterback into throwing toward his assigned zone, using his athleticism and burst to close and drive on the route.
In the run game, Turner is a willing participant who tackles well for a cornerback, showing no hesitation in making tough tackles. However, his lack of striking power can be a bit of a limitation, especially when dealing with bigger, physical receivers who can post him up. His shorter arms can also pose challenges in contested-catch instances. In addition, he is not expected to stack and shed blocks with physicality, but makes up for the lack of power with quickness.
Overall, Turner is an excellent cover corner in the 2023 draft class, with his athleticism, competitiveness, instincts, and coverage flexibility combining to give him a high floor and ceiling for success in the NFL. While he can handle pretty much any coverage, he shines in tight man-to-man situations, where his quiet footwork and smooth transitions prove advantageous. Those in need of a young cornerback who can step into the CB2 spot as a rookie should keep an eye on Turner, as he has the potential to become an elite cornerback at the next level.
Turner is known for quickly getting up on the line of scrimmage and delivering a strong punch early in a route. This allows him to shadow wide receivers and quickly close in when the ball is released. His speed and agility also enable him to flip his hips and run with players on deep routes, regardless of their speed. His exceptional instincts and timing have been recognized as his greatest strengths on the field.
Despite his slightly smaller build, Turner shows great tackles and consistently wraps up ball carriers. He also exhibits excellent speed and quick feet required to come down and defend slot receivers in man coverage. His change-of-direction ability allows him to mirror underneath when playing in press/man coverage skillfully.
Turner’s footwork leaves a lot to be desired. His backpedal can be sloppy, and he can appear sluggish when transitioning to make a play on the ball. Additionally, his limited overall length means that he may struggle when matched up against taller receivers, especially if they have an advantage in jump ball situations. This can make him a liability in the red zone, where those types of plays become more common.
Turner will liekly be a nickel or slot coverage-only cornerback. Despite playing on the outside in college, he may not be big enough to hold up in that role against NFL-level competition. As a result, he may struggle to find a consistent starting spot on a team’s defense.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Turner’s playing style could lead to him picking up more penalties than other players. He has a tendency to be hesitant when facing the action in zone coverage, which could lead to him drawing flags for interference or holding.
Overall, while Turner has some skills as a man coverage defender, there are clear weaknesses in his game that will need to be addressed if he wants to have a successful NFL career.
D.J. Turner is the 110th prospect on our draft big board.