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Why the hell isn’t anyone talking about Malik Turner?

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

For the last couple of weeks there’s been concerns about the health and availability of receiver David Moore due to a broken arm. Moore, a reasonable guess as to who will be the Seattle Seahawks’ number two receiver in 2019, is likely to return soon but his injury and the release of Jaron Brown has opened the door for some other players at the position to get some of Russell Wilson’s attention.

That includes the three rookies we talk so much about but also a fourth player who has mostly stayed under the radar but who could now be in a position to get significant targets in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

And fittingly Malik Turner, like Moore, will be looking to do so for the Seahawks one year after they cut him. (Warning: scattershot highlights of Malik Turner below)

Seattle’s merry-go-round of receiving options since the surprise retirement of Doug Baldwin has circled around a few veteran names that never came on board, Brown, D.K. Metcalf, John Ursua, Keenan Reynolds, and even undrafted rookies Jazz Ferguson and Terry Wright, but Turner (who I want to somehow give a nickname of “Turn the ‘Lik Around”) managed to go overlooked through the entirety of the process and I don’t recall any 53-man projections that listed him as “In.”

Mostly because everyone assumed that Brown was a lock and if they were going to squeeze in a sixth receiver, it was going to be Ferguson. I mean, what upside did Turner have as a guy who is already ... 23? And as a player who was participating in his second camp with the team, after spending most of 2018 on the practice squad with the team, and as a guy who spent almost two months on the active roster of the team?

You know ... all of those advantages he had over Jazz Ferguson, Terry Wright, Gary Jennings, John Ursua, and D.K. Metcalf. Not that he would be favored over Metcalf, but it is safe to assume that being a rookie means carrying a lot of extra baggage (and not just the hazing kind) as you go through your very first NFL experience, and Turner is now past that. He was not a receiver that played much on offense last year — 42 snaps — but he played more than zero.

Which is more than you can say about Amara Darboh and the rookies. Turner has spent the last year as the most overlooked member of the team that the coaches clearly like a lot. There was more hype on Moore a year ago but I think that was only because he was drafted, while Turner didn’t just go undrafted, he spent his first pro stint of any kind with the Green Bay Packers; I think being signed initially is a boon to fan attention and hope as well.

Fans have not put very much attention on Turner so far, but he’s quite possibly a starter in Week 1 vs the Bengals. And that might be the most amazing story of the weekend that nobody is talking about for some Jadeveon Clowney reason.

A 3-star recruit out of Springfield, Springfield Illinois, Turner chose the Illini over Ball State. In four years at Illinois, Turner broke school records, made SportsCenter Top 10 constantly, and re-invented the game. Just kidding. He wasn’t much to look at for a school that people rarely look at for football anyway. Not that he was bad, but Turner’s career best season came as a junior (48/712/6) and he followed that up with a 31/326/0 line as a senior.

This is not to say that Turner didn’t have skills that deserved better than quarterbacks Wes Lunt and Jeff George, Jr.. More to the point is that nobody could have possibly started noticing Turner during his four-year stint at one of the worst college football programs in the WORLD. No, solar system!

He wasn’t Calvin Johnson at Georgia Tech. He wasn’t even Jay Cutler at Vanderbilt. Just another guy. One of those 1,000s upon 1,000s of college football players who were good enough to get here but not good enough to get anywhere beyond this. He obviously didn’t get invited to the combine, but then he had a pro day that shook the world.

Just kidding. He had foot surgery and was in a boot.

Turner’s presence in the NFL alone is worthy of astonishment, but that’s not it. I mean, this could be the Seahawks’ leading receiver next week and he:

  • Wasn’t recruited by anything more than his closest major college
  • Wasn’t the leading receiver on an awful 2-10 team as a senior
  • Broke his foot
  • Wasn’t at the combine
  • Wasn’t able to do anything more than bench reps at his pro day (17)
  • Wasn’t drafted
  • WASN’T SIGNED AFTER THE DRAFT

Yes, Turner wasn’t even signed as an undrafted free agent. He had a tryout with the Packers in June — AND GREEN BAY DIDN’T SIGN HIM THEN EITHER. After weeks of waiting, Turner finally signed with the Seahawks at the end of last July, just in time for training camp. .

  • Wasn’t signed by the Packers after a tryout
  • Wasn’t picked up by anyone for three months after the draft
  • Wasn’t on Seattle’s final 53-man roster last season
  • Wasn’t claimed on waivers
  • Wasn’t signed by the Houston Texans, who gave him a workout after he was released
  • Wasn’t claimed on waivers when the Seahawks released him in December

And the whole time, he was barely noticed. He was discussed, sure, and had some key moments in the 2018 preseason, but consider this:

A receiver who went undrafted and didn’t sign with the team until training camp outlasted Tanner McEvoy, Marcus Johnson, Keenan Reynolds, Amara Darboh, Cyril Grayson, and by the end of the season, Brandon Marshall too. The team then drafted three receivers and signed two that everybody really liked — an experience that Turner didn’t have with any team last May — and had veteran Jaron Brown also going into his second year with Seattle but the player the team is going with if not an injured Moore looks to be Turner.

Of course, he wouldn’t be the first player to be a surprise starter for Pete Carroll.

Chris Carson rushed for more yards last season than he did during his career at Oklahoma State. George Fant didn’t play college football really. Moore played at East Central University. The list goes on.

He also could join a list of Seahawks receivers who were thought to have no shot at pro success: the undrafted Doug Baldwin, the undrafted and released as a rookie Jermaine Kearse, the seventh round and released as a rookie Moore. Seattle has gotten more out of receivers in Turner’s position than they have the bigger acquisitions like Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, and Paul Richardson.

What does that mean for the Seahawks then if they’re starting Turner next Sunday? Is it that Turner is so impressive that he’s undeniable — like Carson was as a seventh round rookie running back — or is it that Seattle is screwed because of injuries — like Shaquem Griffin against the Denver Broncos a year ago? It could be a bit of both but one of two things that I’m not going to do is count Turner out.

The other thing I’m not going to do again is overlook him.