The 2018 NFL Draft is full of athletic freaks with relatively meager production.
Along with Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen and Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan, Turay ranks at the top of the list - a fact which could make him one of the big winners during workouts and a potential early round pick - despite struggling with durability and producing less over his career than some edge rushers did in 2017, alone.
The boom or bust prognostication is nothing new for Turay. It has followed him since high school, when he flashed as a freshman, then took the sophomore and junior seasons off, only to return to the gridiron as a senior and register an eye-popping 19 sacks, earning a scholarship offer to the local Scarlet Knights.
After redshirting his first year on campus, Turay exploded onto the college scene in 2014, leading the team and finishing seventh in the Big Ten with 7.5 sacks among his 24 tackles. Turay recorded three tackles, including two sacks in his debut - the season-opener against Washington State - and was just as impactful in his first two games against Big Ten foes, blocking field goals against Penn State and Michigan, the latter of which earned him conference Special Teams Player of the Week as the block was of a potential go-ahead score by the Wolverines, preserving Rutgers' 26-24 upset victory. Turay ultimately blocked a third kick (against Howard), tying for the national lead in 2014, ultimately earning Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors from league coaches and the media.
For as exciting as Turay was in 2014, his production over the next two seasons was the polar opposite.
Turay entered his redshirt sophomore season atop the depth chart at defensive end but suffered a shoulder injury during camp and came off the bench against Norfolk State in the opener, though he did record a sack. Turay made his first career start the next game (Washington State), registering three tackles, three QB hurries and a pass breakup, but as the Scarlet Knights entered Big Ten play with its run-heavy offenses, the pass-rushing specialist saw less and less playing time while his shoulder continued to bother him. Turay played in a total of 19 games over the 2015-16 seasons but started just the one game, recording just 12 tackles, including four sacks during this time.
It was the University of Washington (rather than their rival Cougars) against whom Turay began his career resurrection in 2017, beating the Huskies' Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary (two future NFL draft picks) for a then-career high five tackles, including a tackle for loss and two QB hurries. Again Turay picked up his play as the conference schedule arrived, recording seven tackles against Nebraska, seven more - including two for loss and a sack - against Ohio State, another seven spot against Michigan (including a sack) and concluding his career with a new personal-best 10 tackles, including 1.5 sacks on Senior Day against Michigan State. Playing in all 12 games (but starting just nine), Turay recorded a career-best 65 tackles in 2017, including seven for loss and four sacks. He also forced a fumble, recovered two fumbles, batted down a pass and was credited with six quarterback hurries, earning an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Third Team All-State selection by the Star-Ledger ... led New Jersey with 19 sacks as a senior ... helped guide Barringer to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years ... nine tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a safety in a 19-6 victory over Belleville ... rated as a three-star recruit by Scout ... recorded 105 tackles (28 for loss), 19 sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior ... did not play football as a sophomore or junior ... played the sport as a freshman at East Orange ... NJSIAA North II, Group I spring track and field champion in the triple jump and long jump as a junior ... also played high school basketball.
Possesses a lean, athletic frame with room for additional muscle mass without sacrificing his trademark quickness and agility. Disproportionately long arms, which allow him to keep would-be blockers at bay and help Turay disengage despite possessing just average upper body strength, at this time. Did show development in his pass rush technique in 2017, showing a quick dip and rip move to complement his speed. Wins as a pass rusher due to his slithery athleticism, showing rare flexibility and agility to avoid blockers and to stalk and close on ball-carriers from behind. An explosive athlete who converts to speed to power, flashing the ability to bull-rush bigger men because his burst has them playing on their heels... Improved awareness and physicality in 2017 as an open-field tackler, using his long arms to lasso ball-carriers (or tip passes and kicks) which would be out of the reach of most defenders. Easy change of direction and acceleration, showing the fluidity to handle coverage duties. Clear untapped potential... -- Rob Rang 12/29/2017
More disruptive than dependable at this point, often creating pressure but rarely actually finishing the play with the tackle for loss or sack. Too many missed tackles with ball-carriers ripping through his grasp due to a lack of upper body and hand strength... Questionable instincts, failing to read screens, draws and other misdirection by simply pinning his ears back and barreling upfield... Plays too high, reinforcing his average strength and too easily being wiped out when run at, occasionally being obliterated by double-teams... Relatively slim shouldered-frame which could limit his ability to add and maintain "good" weight. Shoulders injuries which ruined his 2015-16 seasons require careful examination at the Combine... - Rob Rang 12/29/2017
COMPARES TO: Leonard Floyd, Bears - Like Turay, Floyd is a lean, agile pass rush specialist whose length and freaky athleticism convinced Chicago to invest the No. 9 overall pick in him despite durability concerns and his sack numbers actually decreasing each of his three seasons at Georgia (and never topping more than 6.5). Turay is not likely to earn this early of interest in the 2018 draft but a top 50 selection is possible - and perhaps even likely - if Turay impresses at the Senior Bowl and Combine.
IN OUR VIEW: Turay leaves Rutgers with "just" 15.5 sacks over his career - nearly half (7.5) of which came during his freshman season back in 2014 - but he possesses a rare combination of length and agility which could make him a monster off the edge in the increasingly pass-happy NFL. Based on his struggles with durability and overall production, Turay should earn middle round consideration, at best. He has the raw talent to be special, however, so don't be surprised if he is drafted much earlier.