NFL Draft’s Justifiable Jets: Björn Werner
Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com
With the 2013 NFL Draft less than a month away, TJB will offer some daily insight on players in this year’s draft class. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Jets to make a selection.
Consensus All-American (2012)
ACC Defensive Player of the Year (2012)
Where the Jets could get him: Round 1, while Werner seems to be tracking in the teens, he’s shown in his final season at Florida State that he can be a dominant pass rusher and so he is getting some traction with the Jets and with teams in the 10-15 range that have pass rushing concerns.
Explaining his game: Werner was raised in Germany and was a high school exchange student who fell in love with the game. Despite only playing two years of high school football, Werner was a three-star recruit and as the fifth overall prospect in the state of Connecticut by Rivals.com when he left Salisbury. In college, Werner saw the field from his rookie year, became a starter in his sophomore season and had a career year as a junior and declared for the NFL Draft. As a junior, Werner amassed 13 (best in the ACC) sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 8 passes break-ups proving his ability to be a game-changer on the edge.
Werner doesn’t have elite length for a DE/OLB and doesn’t have the sudden quickness that some of the other pass rushers in this class have, but he is still quick enough to bend and beat blockers off the snap. Werner has natural instincts and a good motor and being that he’s really only played football for five years, that will make him attractive options for top ten teams who can see his upside and ability to stay with the ballcarrier as an end. Werner is still learning but he already has excellent awareness and the ability to diagnose a play and do whatever it takes to disrupt the play; whether that means get his hands up to bat down balls, crowd passing lanes or find a way to re-route the ballcarrier if he can’t shed his block and make the tackle himself. Still, Werner needs to refine some of his game by consistently staying low to keep leverage, using his hands more effectively, to stay on his feet when facing off-balance blocks, or maneuvering through trash.
Notes: In the past two years, the Jets have drafted two seemingly excellent players who are versatile enough to play multiple positions but who project to the more interior focused 3-4 DE roles. While Coples might see more time on the outside in a four-man front than Wilkerson might, the Jets have removed Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace and opened the door for a player or two to step into those edge setting and edge rushing roles in 2013. Werner is an excellent athlete in his own right, but he is not considered the best athlete in his group … that distinction would go to a player like Ansah or Jordan. Still, Werner’s potential comes in that he’s still learning the game and is already extremely productive and his football IQ is off-the-charts good. Werner has the attributes to bully the passer, but should he not get there then he can still disrupt the play by just collapsing the pocket or getting his hands up to bat balls. The one thing that gives me pause is that he’s more considered a 4-3 defensive end than an outside linebacker and for that reason I wonder where he would reside on the Jets draft board … is he ranked lower than other prospects and below players at different positions like Warmack or Austin?
For the Jets, a key element over the last few years is having a capable edge setter who can “stack and shed” their blocks to get to the ballcarrier should they bounce inside or outside. While Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas weren’t the quickest at it, they were good at it and their rangy size allowed them the long arms to keep blockers at a distance before disengaging to make the tackle. Werner was able to prove that during his collegiate career, but he might run into more trouble with NFL tackles and their wingspan, who will likely out-span his so he’ll have to make up the difference in non-stop aggression.
Werner is an athletic and capable player, but his real value lies in his smarts and his motor. He might not be the most physically gifted player, but he’s going to be a productive player in the NFL for many years.
Articles on Werner:
Video: A compilation of Werner’s highlights as a Seminole.