Broncos Urged to Select Defensive Ace in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft

Getty Denver Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton

The odds that the Denver Broncos will select a quarterback with the 12th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft are high. That belief among NFL circles intensified after the team met with top prospects like J.J. McCarthy, Michael Penix Jr., and Bo Nix during the NFL Scouting Combine.

However, The Athletic’s Chris Kamrani argued the case for Alabama linebacker/defensive end Dallas Turner as the Broncos’ first-round choice.

“This is a new rule in the NFL Draft: Anytime you give up 70 points, your ensuing first-round pick the following spring has to be a defensive player,” he wrote on The Athletic’s first-round mock draft last February 27. “And in Turner, the Broncos get a threat to get home to the quarterback; he leaves Alabama with 22.5 sacks in three years. Denver needs another alpha on that side of the ball alongside fellow Crimson Tide alum Patrick Surtain II.”

Aside from surrendering the second-most points in an NFL regular season game, the Denver Broncos allowed the Miami Dolphins to gather 30 first downs and 726 total yards on offense in that September 24, 2023 encounter at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins averaged 10.2 yards per play in that Week 3 contest.

The Florida native became a 2023 Consensus All-American and First Team All-SEC member thanks to his 53 tackles, 10 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

These numbers affirm NFL analyst Lance Zierlein’s observation that Dallas Turner is “long and athletic with the explosive traits needed to become an impactful NFL pass rusher.” Should Denver select him at 12, Zierlein added that Turner will be most comfortable if they “widen him out and allow him a better runway to ignite his burst and overwhelm tackles with his speed.”

While his game has room for improvement, especially in holding his ground against run blockers and setting a solid edge to contain running backs, Turner can help a Broncos team that finished with 42 sacks, tied for ninth-worst in the league last season, according to ESPN’s NFL stats.

Dallas Turner stole the show at the NFL Combine

GettyFormer Alabama linebacker/defensive end Dallas Turner

The 6-foot-2 defensive specialist completed the 40-yard dash in an astonishing 4.46 seconds, including a 1.54-second 10-yard split, and showed his 40.5-inch vertical jump. The 2023 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year landed a 10-foot-7 broad jump.

Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator Curator and Relative Athletic Score (RAS) inventor Kent Lee Platte ranked his composite speed and explosion grades as “elite.” On a scale of 1 to 10, Platte awarded a 9.96 grade for Dallas Turner’s 40-yard dash and 9.92 for his 10-yard split.


Turner’s overall RAS of 9.49 is comparable to Drake Jackson and Nik Bonitto’s 2022 Combine performances, among others.

These numbers back up the Bleacher Report NFL Scouting Department’s November 29, 2023, observation about Turner as “the best pure athlete in this year’s edge class. He has a good get-off and is a smooth-mover when working laterally.”

Dallas Turner could compete for a starting role if selected by the Broncos

GettyDallas Turner at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine

Spotrac reveals that Jonathan Harris, Josey Jewell, Mike Purcell, and Justin Strnad will be free agents once the 2024 league calendar starts on March 13. Their potential departures could shorten the Broncos’ rotation at defensive end and linebacker, giving Turner a chance to fight for a starting role if he lands in Denver.

Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph can move him around the defensive line to keep quarterbacks within their division, like Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes, guessing Turner’s intention in every snap.

But whether the Broncos draft him or not, he admitted in a February 29 interview with CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson and Rick Spielman that Dallas Turner can’t wait to sack former teammate Bryce Young.

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