NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints drafted Houston defensive end Payton Turner 28th overall in Thursday night’s first round of the NFL draft.
The decision to select Turner comes after the Saints lost 2020 sack leader Trey Hendrickson in free agency.
Although Turner played in just five games for Houston last season, he had five sacks and 10 1/2 tackles for losses, along with a forced fumble.
Turner was sidelined with knee and hand injuries in 2020 and also tested positive for COVID-19 during the season.
Turner now joins a roster that already has two starting defensive ends in 10-year veteran Cameron Jordan and fourth-year pro Marcus Davenport, a 2018 first-round pick whose fifth-year option was picked up by the Saints earlier on Thursday.
But he could see considerable playing time as a rookie nonetheless because the Saints have been known to use three-defensive-end packages during certain passing situations.
The bigger need for the Saints was arguably at cornerback. But New Orleans was unable to trade up before four of the top-rated cornerbacks in the draft had been selected by other clubs.
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