For the past few seasons, the Florida State Seminoles have enjoyed having one of the most punishing defenses in college football. One of the main pieces to that puzzle was 6-3, 266-pound Berlin, Germany native, defensive end Bjoern Werner. Now it’s time for an NFL franchise to enjoy the luxury of having the terrorizing pass-rusher coming off the edge for them.
Although he only had two years of high school experience before joining the ‘Noles in 2010, Werner appeared in all 14 games as a true freshman and his impact was felt immediately. And, you can see there was something special building with the German. Registering 20 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a backup that year, the freshman put everyone on notice right off the bat.
Watching Werner the last two seasons since that freshman year really has people excited to see how far he can go at the next level.
Pass rushing off of the edge, Werner has a uncanny knack for beating his opponents with a dangerous mix of power and speed. It seemed at times throughout his career that opposing offensive linemen simply stood no chance once the ball was snapped. Werner was in the backfield before the quarterback could even blink.
Another ability that the DE became quite famous for was his ability to bat the ball down. With an alarming number of NFL quarterbacks these days displaying their own unorthodox throwing motions, Werner’s ball-swatting skills may come in handy more than some may think.
As far as stopping the run, the Florida State product shows a lot of promise here as well. The strength that Werner possesses allows him to blow the blockers into the backfield to disrupt the blocking scheme and destroy the play completely. He’s also skilled at shedding the block before the ball-carrier can get near his area.
While only registering one tackle in last year’s ACC Championship Game against the option-heavy Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets offense, he was able to keep incredible contain for most of the game and force the play in the opposite direction. With the NFL slowly transitioning to a lot of option-oriented offense, Werner progressing this skill can prove valuable down the road.
Just as with any draft prospect throughout history, however, there are a few negatives that sit with the positives.
With a lot of 3-4 defensive schemes at the next level, many are questioning whether or not he would be able to make the transition to outside linebacker, should the situation call for that. Had he had experience in college with the position, then maybe a switch like this would seem more plausible. Instead, his career was spent rushing the edge from the 3-point stance.
And, there’s the next possible hindrance.
The majority of Werner’s rushes in college came from a down position, not standing up. The 266-pound end could have some difficulty rushing from an upright position, as the needed agility may not be present for him to excel in that area. Football is, most times, a game of habit. Changing the position that Werner rushes from can prove difficult.
All in all, the German native definitely possesses the athletic skill to excel on someone’s defensive line at the pro level. If he can find a home in a primarily 4-3 oriented defense, he can develop into quite the disruptive force in the NFL.
And, from what I hear, the New York Giants are looking for someone to complement All-Pro Jason Pierre-Paul in their 4-3 scheme.