Nevada TE Cole Turner has established himself as a name for dynasty fantasy football managers to remember for 2022. Following a successful collegiate career, what are Turner’s strengths, are there any concerns, and how does his landing spot with the Washington Commanders impact his dynasty value in 2022 and beyond?
Cole Turner’s fantasy profile
We all know that the tight end position is a weak point for fantasy football. There are just a handful of players who managers feel comfortable firing into their lineups on a weekly basis. However, with all the attention being paid to the wide receivers of this class, the tight end position is surprisingly deep this year, and we could see several of these players become staples in their offense while injecting some much-needed depth for fantasy. One of those under-the-radar names is Nevada TE Cole Turner.
What made him so valuable was his ability to be split out. Turner spent 88% of his passing downs as a junior in the slot. In fact, less than 2% of his passing-down snaps came inline.
In 2021, Turner further added to his formational versatility, with over 25% of his snaps out wide. Playing in 11 games, Turner set new highs across the board, converting 62 of 93 targets for 677 yards with 10 touchdowns. Of those receptions, 36 went for first downs to keep drives alive.
Strong showing at the Senior Bowl
Turner’s production was outstanding enough that he received an invite to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Turner proved he’s one of the strongest pass-catching tight ends of the class and was one of the bigger risers to come out of the week. He performed well in blocking drills and was a difficult matchup for linebackers, even when coming off a chip and release.
At 6’6″ and 246 pounds, Turner checks the boxes for size at the NFL level. With more and more teams utilizing tight ends off the line of scrimmage, Turner could be quick to produce in 2022, adding to his long-term dynasty value.
Turner’s hands are some of the best in the class. There is natural comfort in his game where targeted. He tracks the ball well in the air and seemed incredibly comfortable on seam routes, which were a staple of the Air Raid offense at Nevada.
What also stands out in his receiving is his catch radius. Turner measured in with a 79 1/4″ wingspan, which backed up what he showed on tape. His jump-ball skills are also on par with some of the better tight ends we’ve seen come out in recent years. Given Turner’s high school basketball background, this is not surprising. With his size and catch radius, he can smother and dominate a DB in the air or on 50/50 balls.
Turner is far from a polished prospect. To play tight end, you need to be able to block, unless you’re going to a scheme that uses tight ends off the line or runs a ton of 12 personnel. While not a liability, Turner is not a mauler and could struggle at the NFL level. He will need to add functional strength to be a consistent player.
Turner also needs to improve his route tree. He doesn’t have a high-level hip sink and is more of an upright, vertical tight end. His big-play ability comes from his after-the-catch traits, not from separation at the stem. While athletic, he’s not someone who will pull away from linebackers or make sudden movements on his cuts. Instead, he rotates back around to present a large window to a QB.
Turner’s injury history
Playing tight end means you will get beat up every single snap. Whether it’s in blocking or catching the ball in traffic, you’re going to take a hit. Last November against San Jose State, Turner sustained a concussion. The team took a cautious approach, and he was held out for the following game against San Diego State.
In terms of injuries, Turner has a clean bill of health, as you would hope for a player who started just two seasons, one of which was truncated due to COVID.
Cole Turner selected by the Washington Commanders
While Washington traded up to add a receiver in Jahan Dotson, they were not done adding to their offense. Next came QB Sam Howell (No. 144), and later in the fifth, they selected Turner with pick No. 149.
During the pre-draft process, Turner, along with former Nevada teammate Carson Strong, flew into Washington for a workout with the team. In the fourth round last year, Washington did add John Bates, but he projects to be more of a blocking tight end than a passing target for Carson Wentz.
Turner could become another red-zone weapon for the Commanders once he adjusts to the NFL level of play and potentially a starting option. He’s also an insurance policy as Logan Thomas returns from a torn ACL suffered late last season.