The Skol Debate: Did the Vikings Overpay for Dallas Turner?

The cost wasn’t cheap.

Dallas Turner was tumbling down the board and Minnesota made their move for the talented pass rusher. To be fair, Kevin O’Connell foreshadowed the exact scenario, wondering aloud prior to the 2024 NFL Draft whether one of the best defenders could approach pick No. 23.

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates after Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandlers (32) touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

When the Jaguars got on the clock and Turner was still without an NFL address, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah decided it was time. Tom Pelissero reported the details of the swap: “The #Jaguars get No. 23 and No. 167 and 2025 3rd and 4th rounders.” With those selections, Jacksonville brought Brian Thomas Jr. (No. 23) and Keilan Robinson (No. 167) to town. The future picks are yet to be determined.

For their troubles, Minnesota got Mr. Turner. Was it an overpay or is a multi-pick package just the cost of doing business?

Helping us get to the bottom of that question is Josh Frey and K. Joudry, the normal combatants in The Skol Debate. The former is arguing that the cost is worth it while the latter is defending the overpay position. Read on to see who takes the cake.

Oh, and one more thing: go ahead and let us know where you stand in the poll below. Did the Vikings overpay while making their move for Dallas Turner? The poll is toward the bottom.

Did the Vikings Overpay for Dallas Turner?

KJ: Well, Josh, I think it’s safe to say that the Vikings’ draft lived up to the hype. 

In the weeks and months leading up to the three-day event, there was no shortage of speculation about Minnesota making a large jump up the board for a quarterback. Instead, there was just a minor hop – barely enough movement to get through a hopscotch grid. Minnesota went from No. 11 to No. 10 to make sure they could snag J.J. McCarthy. Doing so was met with widespread applause. 

Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws a pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half in the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Afterwards, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah orchestrated an unforeseen trade with the Jaguars, leaping from No. 23 to No. 17 for Alabama’s Dallas Turner. Doing so involved adding in No. 167 in 2024 alongside a 3rd and 4th in 2025. 

Was that an overpay?

JF: There are a couple of ways in which one could approach this question. If we’re simply applying the term “overpay” to draft trade charts (Fitzgerald-Spielberger, Jimmy Johnson, Rich Hill, etc.), then yes, the Vikings did overpay by just about every metric, particularly when also accounting for Minnesota’s trade to get up to No. 23.

However, I think we also have to consider the situation as well as the quality of player that the Vikings landed by moving up to select Turner. After acquiring McCarthy at No. 10 and filling their need at the most important position in football, the Turner pick landed Minnesota a top-tier talent at arguably the second-most important position. 

From my point of view, yes, the Vikings could miss out on a couple quality players in 2025 because of their trades. However, I also believe that this will be a non-issue if Turner can develop into a cornerstone for Minnesota’s defense. 

What do you think, Kyle, when it comes to this trade?

KJ: Right, so you’re bringing up a good point. 

There are at least two levels of value with Turner (but probably three if we consider the potential cap benefit of landing an EDGE1 on a rookie deal). There’s the value lost in the trade up but then the value gained of having a standout player at one of the game’s critical positions. As you note, QB is the undisputed top spot, but edge rusher has a reasonable claim at #2 because…they can help to neutralize QBs. 

So, there’s no dispute on that point. 

An elite edge rusher, something Turner has the potential to become, offers tremendous on-field value since he’s in a position to help undermine a quarterback. Adding someone who would have been a top-10 pick (top-5?) in a different draft makes a ton of sense and it’s an approach I’ve advocated for previously. 

Dec 31, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) reacts during the first half against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2021 Cotton Bowl college football CFP national semifinal game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Even still, I think we can argue that Minnesota overpaid.

The topic is one that you’ve covered in your writing for PurplePTSD. When we toss the Texans and Jaguars trades together, the Vikings gave up: 

  • A 2nd (2024) 
  • A 2nd (2025)
  • A 3rd (2025) 
  • A 4th (2025) 
  • A 5th (2024) 
  • A 6th (2024) 

In return, Minnesota got No. 23 that was eventually turned into No. 17 – within that cluster of outgoing picks above – and then No. 232 (DT Levi Drake Rodriguez). 

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, does that haul of picks seem reminiscent of the ill-fated Ricky Williams trade? Now, as soon as I write those words, there’s a desire to walk it back. New Orleans handed over a 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th in 1999 plus a 1st and 3rd in 2000 to land the running back. Obviously, the price for Williams was steeper than the price for Turner. 

The underlying principle, though, is similar. Just as New Orleans shipped out a ton of quantity in an effort to land a game-breaking quality player, so too has Minnesota shipped out a ton of draft selections to land one player who might rise to the level of an All Pro. 

If Dallas Turner doesn’t turn into that game-wrecking All Pro pass rusher, did the Vikings whiff on the trade? 

JF: It would certainly sting if Turner doesn’t live up to the status of a 17th overall pick. 

There is another caveat to keep in mind, though. These trades by the Vikings were initially made to bring in a quarterback. Many assumed prior to the draft that Minnesota would need to give up both of their first-round picks in order to bring in their “QB of the future.”

In reality, the Vikings only moved up one singular spot to land J.J. McCarthy, which allowed them to make the Turner selection. The hope obviously should be that Turner ends up being a positive influence for Minnesota regardless, but I think this reality provides a bit of a cushion.

Perhaps, Kyle, you view things differently than I do here, but because the Vikings were widely expected to “give up the farm” solely for their quarterback pick, I viewed the Turner trade and selection as gravy for the Vikings.

He is an option that wasn’t expected to be available, and by some stroke of luck from the football gods, Minnesota landed him at No. 17. Because of that, if he doesn’t quite live up to the All-Pro hype, but McCarthy does pan out as a star quarterback, I can’t say that I would be overly upset with how things ended up as long as Turner isn’t a total bust. 

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) celebrates after a sack in the second quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It isn’t as if the Vikings are solely relying on Turner for production in 2024, either. They brought in Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel, who should be plenty capable as starters, while Jihad Ward is coming off a career year with the New York Giants. Expectations for Turner are high in Minnesota and rightfully so considering he is the first edge rusher that the Vikings have selected in the first round since Erasmus James back in 2005.

However, with the number of potential contributors that the Vikings have on the edge right now, we may need to temper any expectations for the rookie. Minnesota also is projected to have some of the most cap space in the NFL during 2025, so in the worst-case scenario, they very likely will be able to bring in more talent at the position if needed.

So, I suppose I have a couple questions to throw back your way at this point, Kyle. One, what would you say are reasonable expectations for Turner in 2024? And two, when would you start raising the red flags if he isn’t ultra productive to begin his career?

KJ: Like yourself, I think there’s a pretty reasonable case to be made that Turner isn’t a starter in Year 1. And, truth be told, that’s not really an issue. The expectation for Turner should be that he’s a menace on 3rd downs, not an every down starter who gobbles up the majority of the snaps. 

Not unlike McCarthy, Turner gets a bit more runway since he’s only 21 and is stepping into a situation where there’s some veteran talent ahead of him on the depth chart. Seeing him be the EDGE3 who creates fear in opposing OCs and QBs on 3rd down would be a success in 2024. 

What would be more concerning is if his career progression appears similar to Lewis Cine’s. 

Cine, like Turner, arrived in the NFL after an excellent college career for a tremendous college program. Cine, like Turner, is an excellent athlete who arrived with plenty of youth in tow. Cine, like Turner, began his career with a Vikings team that had veteran talent at his position. 

Unlike Turner, though, Cine arrived after a trade down. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah accumulated picks before scooping up the safety, the exact opposite scenario to how Turner was brought aboard. Does that ratchet up the pressure for the edge rusher? 

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Now, we’re talking about two different players. Just because Cine has struggled doesn’t mean that that outcome is in any way set in stone – or even likely – for Turner (plus, Cine could still become a strong player). The concern simply rests in the possibility that comes to the fore when we think of the talented safety: sometimes, picks just don’t work out. 

Part of what makes that reality more concerning is the fact Minnesota gave up so much to draft Turner. Yes, missing on Cine stings, but he arrived at No. 32 and there were other picks added. Turner was scooped up at No. 17 and that’s after losing a ton of draft capital to get there. 

Not too long ago, the Saints made a different bold decision with a player who is very familiar to Minnesotans. In 2018, New Orleans snagged Marcus Davenport at 14th overall. Acquiring that pick involved New Orleans saying goodbye to their 2018 1st (27th), 2018 5th (147th), and 2019 1st (30th). A steep price for someone who oozed potential but never fully lived up to his lofty draft slot. 

The hope is obviously that the Turner addition is closer to Will Anderson than Marcus Davenport, but we’ll need to wait and see (like with all draft players, regardless of where they got added and what trades were/weren’t involved; oh, and a piece on The Athletic that leans on the opinion from NFL executives notes the Anderson deal being an important precedent).

Any merit to these thoughts, Josh? Any other ideas come to mind for the Turner trade? No doubt, it’s a home-run swing from Adofo-Mensah. If the bat hits the ball, it’s going to get put into the stands. 

JF: Any time a team gives up as much draft capital as the Vikings did to acquire McCarthy and Turner, they need to be sure about them as prospects. There absolutely is merit to some concern regarding the trade for Turner, particularly considering some of the other trades you mentioned that haven’t worked out in recent years.

For me personally, I have less concern because Turner is a versatile player. Since the Vikings drafted him, Nick Saban and Brian Flores have both compared him to Dont’a Hightower as a player. Saban coached both players in college, and Flores coached Hightower with the New England Patriots, so these two certainly know what they are talking about when making such a comparison. 

If they are proven correct, there could be multiple paths toward success for Turner in Minnesota. Of course, the focus will be on his pass rushing production, and many are hoping for eye-popping numbers in that department. 

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores watches his team play against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Turner isn’t a one-trick pony, though. On top of some elite pass rush numbers at Alabama, he was a surprisingly capable coverage linebacker because of his ridiculous athletic abilities. Among FBS edge rushers with at least 50 coverage snaps, Turner had PFF’s seventh-highest grade in that department (81.0). In 91 coverage snaps, Turner was targeted six times, allowing five receptions for only 17 yards. A limited sample size, to be sure, but his speed and footwork in coverage are impressive and offer a good deal of promise at the NFL level.

Admittedly, Turner’s run defense needs some work right now, but that will likely come as he refines his technique and fills out his frame. After all, as you’ve alluded to already, he is one of the youngest players in this draft class and deserves some time before we judge him too harshly.

I suppose all of that is to say that I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Turner isn’t utilized exclusively as a pass rusher in Minnesota’s defense. Of course, everyone is hoping that Turner can eventually turn into a Danielle Hunter-esque presence for the Vikings defense, but double-digit sack numbers may not be his exclusive road to success, particularly in a Flores defense that has helped plenty of “jack of all trades” players thrive at the NFL level.

Turner’s malleability to fit whatever role Flores needs does give me a bit of additional hope that the trade ultimately will be worth it. Does that make sense? Any closing arguments on your end?

KJ: Well, let me begin by supporting one of the points you made (as counterproductive as that may be when it comes to winning the debate). Dallas Turner ran a 4.46 forty leading up to the draft, a wildly impressive number. For context, Danielle Hunter ran a 4.57 and Justin Jefferson ran a 4.43. 

While no one should be thinking that Turner can hang with Jefferson on a go route, it’s notable that the edge rusher’s straight-line speed tested at almost a step-for-step equal to Minnesota’s WR1. One could envision a scenario where Turner extinguishes passes to the flats due to his speed and length, undermining an opposing offense’s response to Flores sending all of that pressure. 

Our current vantage point doesn’t allow for an ironclad determination about whether the trade was worth it. All we have are twin facts: Dallas Turner has an insane amount of potential and the Vikings paid a steep price to get him inside TCO Performance Center. 

Once September gets rolling, we’ll be able to start seeing if the aggressive trade was worth it. 

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.