The New York Giants have won two Super Bowls in the last six years (2007 and 2011), but during that same span, they have missed the playoffs three times, including last year. Both of those Super Bowl winning teams were very similar in that they had consistent, and oftentimes dominant, defensive line play.
With the 19th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Giants will continue that tradition by drafting the most productive defensive linemen in the country, Florida State‘s 6’4″, 255lb DE Bjoern Werner. Some analysts are projecting Werner to be the J.J. Watt of this year’s draft and pairing up such a talent with the Giants current superstar, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, could be a major contributor to a third Super Bowl run.
The 2007 defensive line was anchored by DTs Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins, and by DEs Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora. Whenever obvious passing situations arose, the Giants would buck conventional wisdom by playimg all three DEs together and exploiting mismatches across the offensive line. This strategy would be enough to defeat the seemingly unbeatable New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII by confounding Tom Brady and Patriots league-leading offense. In 2011, the Giants did a repeat by defeating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI and deploying the same defensive strategy. Although Strahan had retired, and both Tuck and Umenyiora were a four years older, the draft had produced the next defensive superstar in Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul had blossomed into a dominant force and again the 1 DT and 3 DE alignment produced a championship.
Fast-forward to 2013 and the Giants are coming off of a long off-season. While missing the playoffs is never the goal, it has put them in the position to continue their dominance on the defensive side of the ball. A combination of Umenyiora’s departure via free agency and Tuck’s age have the Giants are in dire need of a young, high-motor defensive lineman. Werner finished his career at Florida State with 35 tackles-for-loss in only 27 career starts. That’s good enough to rank him tenth all-time in Seminole history. He also added 23.5 sacks to go along with the tackles-for-loss. Those are mind blowing stats considering this is Florida State, not Florida A&M.
According the his NFL.com combine profile analysis, Werner shows excellent snap anticipation and fires out of his stance, playing fast and hard with very good quickness off the edge. Projects as a strong-side 4-3 end who can play the run well and get pressure on the quarterback. Possesses very good quickness off the snap for his size and flashes some shimmy to get the inside lane. Finds the ball well and uses active hands to rip past tackles after initial contact. Brings power to his punch, can bull his man toward the quarterback with leverage. Swallows running backs after shedding his man in the run game, has athleticism to make tackles in space. Stacks and sheds well, sets the edge and works off blocks to make stops in the run game. Times jumps well to knock down passes if unable to get to the quarterback, also looks comfortable making plays in coverage (18 career passes defended).
The bottom line is Werner will be an immediate impact player for the Giants and an additional match-up problem for teams in the NFC East.