The third-round pick of the Dolphins is the son of Maurice Turner, who was a 12th-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 1983 and played 27 games in parts of three NFL seasons. Turner’s brother, Bryan Kehl, was a fourth-round selection of the New York Giants in 2008 and has played 72 games over the past six seasons. He appeared in five games with the Washington Redskins in 2013 and currently is an unrestricted free agent.
“It was a big help when I was younger,” Billy Turner told South Florida reporters in a conference call Friday. “I learned a lot of the traits of the game a little earlier than some other guys. Got a chance to learn it. It was definitely a big help. They helped me out as much as they could, but at the same time, they really just gave me a lot guidance along the way.”
As it played out, Billy Turner became a better NFL prospect than either his father or brother.
It just took him a while longer to get noticed, the result of playing at Football Championship Subdivision school North Dakota State.
Turner was a standout at North Dakota State, starting the last 56 games while helping the Bison win national titles the past two seasons.
An FCS All-American in 2012 and 2013, Turner impressed enough people to earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he found himself facing elite competition.
“I wouldn’t say it was as eye-opening as I thought it was going to be,” Turner said. “I wasn’t really too taken back by the size differential. That was kind of one thing I was thinking about, but other than that, there were some guys that were a little faster or some guys that weren’t as fast as I thought they were going to be.”
Turner made enough of an impression at the Senior Bowl working at several different positions along the offensive line that the Dolphins brought him in for one of their non-local visits.
Come the draft, the Dolphins still thought highly of him, enough that they traded up with the Oakland Raiders in the third round to make sure they’d get him.
Turner was selected four picks after the Dolphins drafted wide receiver Jarvis Landry after trading down twice in the second round. To move up from 81st to 67th in the third round to get Turner, the Dolphins surrendered their original fourth-round selection.
“He brings a lot of versatility,” General Manager Dennis Hickey said. “The thing we like about him he was also a team captain. Just brings toughness, size, athletic ability and brings a lot of versatility. He was a guy we definitely valued and wanted to move up to get. When we took Jarvis Landry, he was the next guy. So as soon as we made the Jarvis Landry pick, we got on the phones and tried to work out to get him.”
Turner played only tackle at NDSU, one year on the right side and the last three on the left, but has practiced at guard. In fact, that’s where some draft analysts projected him in the NFL.
“We’re going to work him at guard,” Hickey said. “We’re going to work him at tackle. To us that’s a positive, a guy that can play a lot of different positions. That’s all definitely positive. What he brings is toughness. He’s got great size, he’s a really good athlete.”
Turner says he’s more comfortable on the left side because that’s where he spent most of his time in recent years, but he’s willing to play wherever he’s needed.
What matters to Turner is getting the chance to follow in his father and brother’s footsteps.
“It’s a great opportunity with a great organization,” Turner said. “I had a great visit down there a couple of weeks ago. I got a good feel for the organization. It’s a real good fit for me.
“It’s really undescribable. They gave me the call and I just kind of waiting to see it go across the screen because they traded up. You get the pick. It just makes you feel a little bit better knowing they traded up to get you. It’s a great feeling, but it’s more indescribable.”