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Why did the Broncos draft Oklahoma defensive back Delarrin Turner-Yell?

The Broncos drafted the Sooner’s Delarrin Turner-Yell to compete in a crowded safety room.

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Iowa State v Oklahoma
Will Delarrin Turner-Yell carve out a role on the Broncos’ special teams?
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

With the 152nd selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select Oklahoma defensive back Delarrin Turner-Yell. A three-star recruit out of high school, Turner-Yell chose the Sooners over offers from schools such as Baylor, Iowa, Nebraska, and Utah. He missed the first six games of his freshman season before carving out a role and finished his career with 191 tackles, 10 passes defensed, and four interceptions across 40 games, including 31 starts.

Standing 5’10 and 197 lbs., you’d be forgiven if you confused the 22-year-old Turner-Yell for a cornerback, but he’s an easy scheme fit who spent plenty of time playing in two high shells at Oklahoma. Turner-Yell is an savvy defensive back with plenty of experience. He displays the kind of instincts and trigger which helps him to outplay his measurables.

In coverage, Turner-Yell is at his best playing deep in two high shells where he can use his mental acuity and feel for space to take away big plays and will have some issues out of single high because of his change of direction skills. While the Sooners asked him to cover slots on occasion the concerns about his COD and reactive athleticism make him a questionable projection for most man coverage responsibilities in the NFL. While he brings promising ball skills his frame means he can get big-boied by bully ball receivers such as the Los Angeles Chargers’ Mike Williams.

Turner-Yell will remind some fans of Kareem Jackson with his willingness to run the alley to make plays around the line of scrimmage. His size and frame means he will have trouble with bigger blockers, and the aforementioned issues with his tightness means shiftier backs can make him miss in the open field.

It’s worth noting that so far Turner-Yell is the biggest reach Paton’s made compared to the consensus draft boards. On the Athletic consensus board Turner-Yell had an average draft position of 232. The Broncos picked him over players like Rasheed Walker, Darrian Beavers, and Zyon McCollum. At this point it seems say to assume Paton does not worry about right tackle as much as Broncos’ fans do.

The Turner-Yell selection makes sense for the Broncos if you consider the fact there are plenty of long term questions about the secondary and Denver’s coverage units were weak in 2022. Kareem Jackson, J.R. Reed, and P.J. Locke III are all set to play on one-year contracts this season, while Jamar Johnson was not a major contributor in any facet as a rookie. Early on, I expect Turner-Yell to compete for playing time on special teams. He could develop into quality depth safety in time because of his savvy and competitive toughness, though the physical limitations casts some doubt that he’ll ever become more than that.

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