Grading the Pack - Billy Turner

Andy Herman grades the 2018 tape for new offensive lineman - Billy Turner.

Football is back, training camp has officially kicked off, and all the presents that were under Packer fans’ trees this offseason including Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner can finally start being unwrapped as we start to see how some of these pieces are going to fit together on the field in 2019.

Of course one of the biggest additions, both figuratively and literally, was new Packers’ offensive lineman Billy Turner. Turner has a massive frame at 6’5” - 310 and honestly he looks even more imposing than 6’5” – 310 sounds.

Tuner comes over from the Broncos where he finally started to find his niche as a full-time player at guard towards the end of the season. Turner logged 824 snaps in 2018, splitting time between guard and tackle.

While you could see that Turner still hadn’t put it together at tackle, things finally came to a head when in week 8 he started at tackle and had a brutal day against Dee Ford, Chris Jones, and the Kansas City defense. In week 9 he was benched and week 10 was the bye week. Up until that point, Turner played predominantly tackle and had a grade of -2.80 for the season. A huge chunk of that negative grade was against the Chiefs where he had a -2.45 day.

Week 1: +0.05 (2 snaps)
Week 2: +0.45
Week 3: DNP
Week 4: -0.85
Week 5: -0.90
Week 6: +0.30
Week 7: +0.55
Week 8: -2.45
Week 9: +0.05 (3 snaps)
Week 11: +0.70
Week 12: -0.45
Week 13: -0.15
Week 14: +0.50
Week 15: +0.85
Week 16: +0.30
Week 17: -0.15

Total: -1.20

After the bye week in week 10, Turner kicked inside to guard and started to perform at a much higher level. In total, Turner ended the last 7 games with a grade of +1.60 in which he predominantly played at guard.

On the surface, the score may not seem massive. But you would take a positive grade at any of your five spots across the line in today’s NFL. Solid starting offensive lineman are very tough to find and Turner showed at the end of last year that he has that ability.

Maybe more importantly is that outside of one bad game against the Chiefs, he legitimately showed that he has the ability to be a swing tackle in the NFL and could backup both Bulaga and Bakhtiari in a pinch without a massive drop off. It’s for those reasons that Brian Gutekunst felt comfortable giving Billy Turner a sizeable 4 year - $28 million dollar deal in the offseason.

Here is how Turner stacked up against the Packers offensive linemen in 2018:

David Bakhtiari +13.8
Corey Linsley +10.0
Lane Taylor +6.4
Bryan Bulaga +4.15
Alex Light +0.25
Billy Turner -1.20
Lucas Patrick -3.35
Jason Spriggs -5.70
Justin McCray -6.90
Byron Bell -13.50

What should stand out here is just how much better Billy Turner was than Bell/McCray at RG, and even Jason Spriggs as the swing tackle. It may seem like $7 million per year for a player who grades in the negative isn’t a great deal, but when you consider how he played at guard for the last 7 weeks, and how much of an improvement he is from what they had in 2018, it’s easy to see why Gutekunst was willing to spend the money.

As far as Turner’s play on the field goes, it’s all about a level of consistency. Turner runs a bit hot and cold like a streaky shooter in basketball. When things start to spiral downhill they can go downhill fast. For example, in week four he was cruising along to a very nice game but finished with a -1.15 grade in the 4th quarter, including 11 consecutive negative grades at one point. When things start to go downhill he needs to do a better job of forgetting the past, moving on, and course correcting moving forward.

Turner also struggled with speed off the edge. It’s no surprise then why Dee Ford had such a monster day against him. If Ford is able to use his size and length against smaller opponents, it’s over. But the speed rushers who can get around him before he’s set tend to give him trouble.

Turner also needs to finish blocks a bit better. There are multiple blocks where he starts in dominant position and kind of let’s his foot of the gas a little bit which allows the defender to get back into the play. Finishing off those types of plays would help improve his game as well.

Lastly, like most offensive linemen, Turner is much better off when the defense is off balance and isn’t sure what’s coming. When the defensive line has to be worried about Turner firing off the line and getting into their pads, they play a bit more timid. When Denver was in a lot of obvious passing situations last year is when Turner could get himself into trouble and defenders could tee off a bit more.

From a positive standpoint Turner is big, imposing, agile, and when he’s on his game he’s effective as both a run blocker and a pass blocker. He looks the part of full time starting guard and finally got into a rhythm when played there consistently in 2018. The hope is that he can put that full season together at guard and really take his game to the next level in 2019.

In the end, Gutekunst made four key offseason acquisitions that graded as such:

Adrian Amos +6.0
Za’Darius Smith +5.90
Preston Smith +2.60
Billy Turner -1.20

Total: +13.30

Again, on the surface, it may not look like a group of massive grades. But take these into comparison to the four primary players that they will be replacing:

Kentrell Brice -6.20
Nick Perry -7.65
Clay Matthews -9.30
Byron Bell -13.50

Total: -36.65

With those four moves alone, Green Bay goes from a net -36.65 to +13.30. It’s nearly impossible to describe just how much of a swing that should be for the Packers in 2019. In 2018 safety, edge, and right guard were by far the biggest issues for Green Bay and they all seem to be addressed with much better football players in 2019.

Just how much those changes swing the win/loss column is still to be determined. But overall, Green Bay should feel a heck of a lot better about the overall state of their roster, especially in the positions noted above, than they did at this point last season.

How I Grade

  • Each player starts by getting a zero or neutral grade on a play. If they performed as expected on a play, their grade stays at zero.
  • For a slightly above or below average play, the player gets graded -0.1 or +0.1. The vast majority of grades on the vast majority of plays are graded -0.1, 0, or +0.1.
  • The highest and lowest grades on an individual play are +2.0 and -2.0 respectively. These would be large, game-changing plays.
  • I won’t grade a play negatively if I cannot tell which player was at fault.
  • Most of the time it’s impossible to tell the play, so I’m not grading on the execution of the play call as an NFL coach would.
  • The goal of this exercise is to grade every snap over the course of the season to get a long-term view of which performers are performing well and which are not meeting expectations. This is very similar to what Pro Football Focus tries to achieve. Is it perfect? No. But what you are getting is a consistent grader who is watching specifically Packer games and putting multiple hours into every week to breakdown film and assign grades.
  • Grades are for offense and defense only (including two point conversions). Special teams does not factor in.

__________________________

Andy is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and owns & operates the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Andy has taken multiple courses in NFL scouting and appears weekly on 107.5 The Fan in Green Bay to breakdown film. This past season he was an analyst on Green Bay Nation on WFRV TV in Green Bay. Andy grew up in Green Bay and is a lifelong season ticket holder; follow him on Twitter at @sconniesports.

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Comments (24)

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dobber's picture

July 26, 2019 at 09:07 am

I think the real punch line to the article is the end: who is being pushed off the field by these acquisitions? The talent-level on the field improved dramatically at four positions through these four signings.

That said, I did a double-take on Turner's signing based on his past work and what the Packers paid him. I read the reviews that said he was a project and that he was improving, but it's easy to be cynical of that and the propaganda machine. He is still young, and he seems to be improving...AND he may have to hold off a hard-charge from Jenkins to hold down that RG spot. Competition is good.

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TheVOR's picture

July 26, 2019 at 10:23 am

I've kind of made this statement in national forums about Turner, and what I heard recently on Denver's leading sports talk radio show. There was a former NFL player, who also coached Turner in Denver. He basically said GB STOLE him from Denver, and that he's better than Ja'Wuan James who Denver pretty much had to pay HUGE money for, in response to losing Turner. Denver paid 52M over 4 years to replace a guy they could have had for 28, that this coach and former player felt was a better football player.

I enjoyed hearing that! Dude RAVED about Turner! Said he's a very good football player. The 28M over 4 years might seem steep, but in contrast to the Ja'Wuan James contract, is a spit in the bucket! LOVE this signing for GB, great signing.

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jannes bjornson's picture

July 26, 2019 at 11:08 am

I would play him at LG and see who can cover at RG. His movement skills are impressive. Maybe LeFleur is right-dominant in his run sets. Do not know his preferences for the screen game.

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Coldworld's picture

July 26, 2019 at 03:11 pm

I’d play him where LaFleur and co. think is the greatest net upgrade. Almost certainly that will be at RG by the looks of it.

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Coldworld's picture

July 26, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Friends in Denver were very annoyed that he slipped away and felt general chaos on line meant he was better than he showed due to those around him.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 26, 2019 at 01:29 pm

Coldworld, Lane Taylor has played both RG and LG, IIRC, as has Turner. The coaches should just talk to them about where they each feel most comfortable and then assess each of them at the other guard spot.

Ditto for Jenkins, who probably faces the biggest adjustment since he primarily was a center. I remember Sitton IIRC correctly describing playing RG vs. LG as having to use your other hand to wipe your behind (paraphrasing).

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Rak47's picture

July 26, 2019 at 10:03 pm

Very good post and also nice to hear what the coaches and fans in Denver thought about this signing.

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PatrickGB's picture

July 26, 2019 at 09:24 am

I don’t get the hype on Turner. Sure, he is big but he has a lot of flaws in his game. I am glad that the article pointed out his strengths as guard versus tackle. Perhaps his negative grades were only because he was misused and out of position. Perhaps good coaching,, a new scheme and fresh start is all he needs.

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kevgk's picture

July 26, 2019 at 11:33 am

Its obviously no guarantee he improves, but being the starter since camp will give him time to adjust to being in the unit, and guard is probably the easiest position on the line to play. He has the athleticism to pull and zone block too, so I think he will be a piece in that regard.

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Rick F's picture

July 26, 2019 at 09:26 am

I see turner as a guard. He is good on the move inside and loves destroying people. The high tempo wide scheme fits his strengths. The running game is going to be fun watch evolve.

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CheesyTex's picture

July 26, 2019 at 10:00 am

And, because Denver runs a zone blocking scheme, he brings that experience with him. Hope he is a "team" guy, as that experience could be a big help to the rest of the line as they adapt to zbs.

Also still hoping Gute can work out a trade of unhappy Josh Jones for unhappy Duke Johnson. IMO that would solidify RB position in LaF offense that favors an RB who can catch too. With so many changes to the offense this year, it sure would feel good to have a reliable veteran in the mix.

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TheVOR's picture

July 26, 2019 at 10:29 am

I said Jones for Johnson a while ago. Don't see it, plus he's come with a 5M per/year average price tag..

I'm seriously thinking Josh Jones could in fact be released at some juncture. For a guy who said he's not going to be playing LB, and "that ain't happening", sure played a lot of LB in that first practice..

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jannes bjornson's picture

July 26, 2019 at 11:11 am

Jones has zero leverage. If he dogs it in pre-season, his film will tell his tale to the rest of the League. He is best served to extend his career by playing ball.

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Sol's picture

July 26, 2019 at 09:53 am

I really like the fact that he was born in the upper Midwest and both Turner's father, Maurice Turner, and his brother, Bryan Kehl, both played in the NFL. That alone should make him feel comfortable. Plus, he will probably be playing next to starting center Corey Linsley: who has 2,484 straight snaps and counting for Packers and entering the prime of his career you come up with all the right chemistry for success. Brian Willis Gutekunst has done a masterful job of getting just the right pieces put in place for a dominate OL.
I believe he was cut in Miami after one bad game probably by some coach trying to make an example or look good while he was just starting out. He then went on to Denver where he found out what it was like to work through a major injury and work his way back into becoming a starter in the NFL. Now it is on to Green Bay where he will be between a rock in the center and two of the better offensive tackles in the NFL. There is probably be a high chance of success. I feel like the other teams have put the time in to train him up and we will reap the benefits for a very small price to get a long-term starter entering the prime of his career.
Go Pack

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Bear's picture

July 26, 2019 at 10:38 am

Looks like he needs to learn to use his hands better.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

July 26, 2019 at 10:46 am

Great summary! Thanks for your efforts.

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LambeauPlain's picture

July 26, 2019 at 11:22 am

Thanks for the great analysis in your article Andy. I also like the neat trick of putting Turner in a Packer uniform vs bares.

Turner is still only 27 with upside to tap into. Huge upgrade at RG. Should make Aaron’s life much easier.

He also looks as nasty as Sitton.

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kevgk's picture

July 26, 2019 at 11:28 am

Those chargers linebackers look like children lol, no wonder NE ran all over them

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ILPackerBacker's picture

July 26, 2019 at 12:03 pm

Really enjoy these articles, thank you and keep it up! I don't always agree with your grades but that is not the only point.

VOR I would love to know if that former player was the same guy who was ripping Brett H in pre season a couple of years ago. He would really know his stuff if its the same guy

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 26, 2019 at 01:34 pm

These are always tremendous articles, Andy. Your articles ought to garner double-digit likes every time. There is a thumbs up button at the end of the article.

The article makes me feel better about Turner as a swing OT and confirms my thought that he is a solid OG with his OT play bringing down his overall PFF grade.

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flackcatcher's picture

July 27, 2019 at 05:22 pm

Turner, like most young players has trouble in space. That is mostly about executing and understanding what your requirements are in the offensive. OT is all about playing in space. Same problem with Spriggs, looks fine one play, the next is looking brain dead. Let him play RG, he'll be fine.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

July 26, 2019 at 01:54 pm

Hated the Byron Bell signing last year. Won't miss seeing Bell on the line. Even if Turner is average that's an upgrade.

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Rak47's picture

July 26, 2019 at 10:00 pm

I'm pretty sure he'll be an upgrade JS. I was impressed at how he was moving the Chargers and defensive lineman at will, while burying a couple to boot. I can't recall Bell playing anywhere near a similar level at any point last season. That footage shows he was hyped up for a division rival and can play at a very high level vs some quite talented defenders. The Chargers defensive front 7 is legit and one of the very best in the league. I'm pretty excited to see what Turner can bring to the team this season. AR seems to be pretty excited about him as well.

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flackcatcher's picture

July 27, 2019 at 05:31 pm

I hated the Bell signing too. Desperation move by Gute when none of their preferred options in house was ready. I harped on this too much, but the Packers had only 5 O Linemen healthy enough to start the season, and both their backups were just filling roster spots. You get what you pay for, and last season, that was Bell.

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