Draft Spotlight: Robert Turbin, RB, Utah St.

Not pictured: Robert Turbin's Skittles

Written by Kip Earlywine

Rundown:  Nicknamed “The Turbinator” by some and “Hulk” by others, Robert Turbin is a bruising and highly productive runner from Utah State of the Western Athletic Conference.

Age:  22 (December 2, 1989)

Height: 5’10″

Weight: 222

40 time: 4.50

10 yard split: n/a

3 cone: 7.16

Vertical jump: 36″

Random trivia: Out of 67 running backs who performed at the combine, Turbin’s 28 bench press reps was tied for first with Doug Martin and Duane Bennett…   Robert Turbin is from Oakland, the same hometown as Marshawn Lynch….  The second highlight video on Youtube for Turbin has the words “BEAST MODE” in its description…  Lynch and Turbin have never been seen together…  Turbin played his home games at Romney Stadium, named in honor of Mitt Romney’s father’s cousin… I accidentally typed the word “Turban” five times while writing this post.

Compilation Videos:

vs San Jose State 2011

vs Ohio (Bowl) 2011

vs BYU 2011


  • Super strong:  Thick lower body, huge arms
  • Good size for his height
  • Rarely stopped cold, he often pushes forward for extra yardage
  • Very high yards per carry without being part of a gimmick offense
  • Respectable production as a backfield receiver
  • Nose for the endzone
  • Deceptively high top speed
  • Disciplined runner who avoids the temptation to bounce outside if the play doesn’t call for it
  • Solid vision and change of direction skills
  • Willing blocker


  • Non-BCS level of competition
  • Looks slow behind the line- takes a while to get up to top speed
  • Missed 2010 season from a knee injury
  • Explosiveness looks average at best
  • Breaks surprisingly few tackles

Last season, Robert Turbin rushed for 1517 yards and had 23 total touchdowns (19 rushing).  He averaged 6.1 yards per carry, one of the higher rates in the nation.  His size, speed, and production are all very close to Ryan Mathews when he came out of the WAC two years ago, and both enter the NFL with some injury concerns.  Mathews was drafted 12th overall.  Granted, I wasn’t one of Mathew’s biggest fans back in 2010 (I gave him a 3rd round grade), but I don’t see a ton of separation between Mathews and Turbin as prospects.

So why isn’t Turbin talked about as a first round pick or at least a top five running back?  To be honest, I’m not quite sure.  Perhaps its partially because 2012 is a loaded running back class or the fact that seemingly nobody spends much time talking about him.  Of course, just because pundits don’t talk about a player doesn’t mean that scouts haven’t already written a book on the guy.  Honestly, it wouldn’t shock me if Turbin goes earlier than some big name running backs like Chris Polk, David Wilson or Isaiah Pead.

This isn’t to say that I think Turbin is a carbon copy of Mathews, I think a much better comparison would be Marshawn Lynch with less tackle breaking ability and less lateral agility.  Turbin is a determined guy and he runs like it.  He’s the kind of back that would rather lower his shoulder into a linebacker than try to juke him.

Turbin has deceptive speed.  His 4.50 forty time is the real deal, but unfortunately it takes him a little while to reach it.  Playing in the WAC, his 4.50 speed might as well be a 4.40, as he has runs of 80 and 96 yards in his last two playing seasons.  Turbin probably won’t be a regular big play threat in the NFL, but every once in a while he’ll give you a nice sideline scamper- think along the lines of Marshawn Lynch’s 47 yarder against the Giants last year.

In conclusion:

Other than possible knee concerns, there is a lot to like about Turbin and not much to dislike.  For my money he’s a 3rd round talent or better, and if his current level of non-hype is any indication, there is a chance he may last until the 4th or 5th round.  Turbin fits very well with Seattle’s philosophy of physical play and it wouldn’t surprise me if he made an impact immediately.  There are many running backs I like more than Turbin, but if Seattle waits until the 3rd or 4th round and all the big name running backs are gone, Turbin is an excellent fallback option.  He could end up being a steal for some team.


  1. Eli

    I’ve liked “the hulk” for a while after checking out some of his highlight clips. He is another version of Beast Mode without being as agile. A 1-2 punch of Lynch and Turbin would wear defenses down by the 3rd quarter. The guy is also, by multiple accounts, a good guy as well and would probably be a welcome addition to a young ascending Hawks team. Would not be oppossed to picking this guy up in the 3rd at all.

  2. woofu

    I was really looking for a Forte like back-up as opposed to a Lynch-clone. If you go that route then he needs to be a good pass-pro guy. Third down threat to do the run or pick up the blitz keeps defenses honest.

  3. peter

    He has pretty good pass pro skills, along with the ability to pick up blitzes as well as work back to pick up screens when the pocket collapses…..Take it for what it’s worth but in a youtube interview Turbin says that he actually enjoys picking up blitzes and pass pro….I know most players ay whatever needs to be said, but it’s a good sign when a RB recognizes other areas of their use.

    Woofu, are there any “forsett-like” backs you like? I now a lot people are high on Lamichael james, but I alwasy think he tries to go outside too much and I don’t know effective that is against NFL defenses.

  4. Colin

    I agree with you on James, Peter. That kid has some skills but really no place on this team. We need another power back, not someone who is more of a scatback and did so in such a gimmicky offense.

  5. woofu

    Bernard Pierce from Temple might be the closest by 4th round. His 4.34/40 might make his 6 foot 218# frame preclude that round.

  6. AlaskaHawk

    I would like Pierce, I think we should pick our RB in the third round though. No reason to mess around. DE, LB and RB. Then finish it with OL, CB and WR.

  7. Ben2

    AlaskaHawk – I think the picks will break down similar to your predictions unless someone falls and the Hawks pounce, i.e. get Martin if he’s there at our and then grab LB at 3. If we do wait on RB until 6th round because of other “can’t pass-up” opportunities a guy like Tauren Poole or a Vick Ballard would make a lot of sense (big ZBS runners).

  8. Ben2

    “at our #2”

  9. Seahawk Steve

    Yeah Baby! Now we are finally talkin! Can you imagine the D’s trying to keep up with a pounding from Beast Mode and Beast Mode 2.0! That’s what I call a one two punch with a knock out blow from Flynn to any of our recievers!

  10. Hawkfin

    I like Turbin…. I could see him as beast mode 2. 🙂
    He made my 2nd tier RB’s that I liked.

    However, I only gave him a 4th-5th round draft pick grade. Maybe a 3rd rounder would be ok. Not a 2nd round pick though.

    My RB ranks:
    Richardson – man among boys – Top 6 pick
    D. Martin, L. Miller – 2nd rounders (I do like Martin a lot though)
    L. James, K. Polk – 3rd rounders
    V. Ballard, R. Turbin, D. Wilson – 4th-5th rounders
    big drop
    D. Meggit, G. Gray – 6th rounders
    Brandon Bolden, C. Rainey, B. Pierce, I. Pead, T. Ganaway – 7th rounders

    Just my attempt at being scout u know. 🙂

  11. Nolan Thomas

    Just wanted to mention again how much I love this site thanks so much

  12. woofu

    Interesting take Hawkfin. Cosell has Pead as a big high ceiling guy. Like Steve Young Esq. says, “Perception is 9/10 of the Law”.

  13. AlaskaHawk

    I’d like to see a writeup on Cyrus Gray. How well can he catch a pass?

  14. Tom T.

    I second what Nolan wrote. Rob and Kip, you guys invaluable to Seahawk fans!

  15. CFR

    Rob, another mock sending Upshaw to us! Looks like he’s really starting to get tied to us. http://www.kansascity.com/2012/03/31/3527210/the-stars-nfl-mock-draft.html#storylink=rss

  16. Hawkfin

    So Woofu,
    I had Pead rated, but I did kind of go low on him. (7th rounder)
    Of course that might mean 6th depending on how quick RB’s fly of the board.
    He’s not really on my radar though, as I’d rather have a little more potential at RB.

    Here’s my scouting on him though:
    I’m not sure he does have a high ceiling, but he shows flashes and seems to show some speed. I would say there is potential there to be something special.
    I see a lot of risks as well as upside.

    I question his size a little bit for Pro’s, and an every down back. I also think he’ll be a huge liability in blocking, which will keep him off the field a lot, at least early on.

    Some other things I didn’t like was he kind of runs out of an option QB/RB. So like out of a shotgun and spread. Like a shot gun draw almost. To me this is concerning, for various reasons, but for the fact the field is much more open for him. So can he really pound the ball?
    Maybe he’s not that type of back anyway. But speed is not huge either, just decent.

    Then I also worry Cinn. doesn’t really play anybody and are the stats misleading. There was a few other things I noticed on tape as well, to drop him some.

    There was also some things I very much liked as well. I won’t get to much in detail on that good though. His stats were nice. There was enough concerns to drop him to me.

    I kind of viewed him as a Justin Forsett in the pro’s.

    I don’t see a stud when I look at him. And if I were drafting, I would focus on who I think could be a stud and every down back OR if you want a speed guy/scat back like R. Bush/Spiller. He’s kind of in between like J. Forsett to me.

    As an example – Turbin I think has a better chance to be that “stud” rather then Pead to me. Thus the drop in rankings to the 7th.

    I’m sure there was other things at the time. I do my scouting with my brother and he has some of my notes.

    Just my .02

  17. Doug

    I agree Fin,
    Good summary on the RB’s.
    Alaska – agreed, 3rd for a RB, unless we get a shot at Martin… But past him, I think it’s a coin flip on LB’s and RB’s for the 3rd round.
    What I kind of like about Turbin is that he doesn’t really look like he is doing much, until you see his 120yds on 21 carries (or whatever the stats are), That translates into years after contact. The Forsetts can’t do that all game long.
    I don’t see Pead that low though, I think he is a little higher than that, 3rd rd maybe.

  18. Misfit74

    I like Turbin and he’s projected to be a round 3 running back in this draft. I’m just not sure the difference from Turbin to later-round guys like Bryce Brown or Edwin Baker (who may be had in rounds 6 or 7) is big enough to invest a 3rd on him. I like him quite a bit, though, and if he fell to 4 or 5 I think he’d be a bargain.

  19. MontanaHawk

    Great article. One correction though. My fellow Aggie Robert Turbin played his games at Merlin Olson field (renamed a couple of years ago of since decreased USU legend).

  20. Reese

    I’m not sure how you guys are evaluating Pead like Forsett. The knock on Forsett is his lack of speed where as Pead has legit speed and all of his measurable are above Forsett. I understand you might not be impressed with his football tape and wouldn’t want him but no way he lasts into the 7th. I would say he is probably going to be a 3rd round pick but I’m not sure if the Hawks are interested and would take him at the point in the draft.

  21. Michael (CLT)

    Looooove this guy. Absolutely love my Utah State guys. Buy me some Bobby Wanger in the 2nd, with some Turbin in the 3rd.

    Loo’oove this guy. Ya’all need to watch the Auburn tape. USU took it to them.

    Now, these boys, can play.

  22. Kip Earlywine

    You’ll like my next installment then, although you may not like my appraisal, heh.

  23. Bryan

    Didn’t we have some tape of Turbin earlier in the blog, maybe a month ago? Of the three tapes in this article, the best game he showed by far was the BYU game. The first play of the game showed his versatility and skill. Overall, the three tapes above show much of the negatives with Turbin.

    – Except for a few plays in the BYU game, Turbin is essentially stoped by nearly every arm tackle allowing a second defender to swarm and make the tackle.
    – Turbin needs a lot of work at pass blocking as he consistently misses the block or isn’t able to hold the block despite his strength and size. He is a willing blocker, but he isn’t natural at holding a block and driving LB back.
    – A fast back with slow acceleration. Kid of a strange mix, but it takes until at least the third step after a cut to get to full speed.

    + Terrific vision. Turbin consistently takes the best hole on most run attempts. In some cases, he makes gains despite less than stellar blocking.
    + Turbin always falls forward. Even when he is tackled or hit behind the line, Turbin minimizes loses by always falling forward.
    + Good at catching out of the backfield, with a smooth transition from the catch to starting forward. In most cases, his catches were not on the run, but strangely he shows good acceleration from the catch. Sort of the opposite of his acceleration after a cut while running.

    If he is available in the 4th, he would be a great pickup. He would need to learn pass protection blocking to be an effective 3rd down back, but if he could do so he would be a good replacement for Forcett and a much better backup to Lynch than anyone we have on our squad. Hopefully, drafting Turbin would allow us to release Lumpkin.

  24. Kyle

    Lots of good analysis here. Great writeup on the last comment, Bryan. As a negative I’d add that Turbin can sometimes dance when there are no holes–sometimes you just have to hit the line and see what happens.

    I saw Turbin in most of USU’s games this past season. The WAC is obviously not a premium conference, flirting with I-AA quality at times, but Turbin’s ability also shone against Auburn and BYU. He will be a solid backup on a team that has a good running game. As a feature back, I don’t think he’ll transition well to the next level. Too many of his big runs came on 1st-2nd down. When teams keyed on him 3rd and short, or 4th and goal, for example, he often didn’t muscle it in.

    I do love my USU Aggies. I hope he does do well. Keep an eye on Turbin’s backup, Michael Smith, who has game-blazing speed and will probably stick as a UFDA on some team for special teams and 3rd-down/scatback.

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