(Brad Penner - USA TODAY Sports)
With the 24th pick in the first round the Colts selected Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. Coach Chuck Pagano has stated he will play outside linebacker for the Colts but that is about the least interesting factoid from the first night of the draft.
Werner is notably German and as ESPN points out the last likely player to ever be drafted that can be considered a product of NFL Europe. Werner grew up dreaming of being a soccer player but his size and affinity for American football drove him to try something new:
Werner should continue to refine and add to his pass-rushing moves for the NFL. He has the strength for an effective bull rush, club move and rip move. From a speed perspective, Werner would be better off going against right tackles, but against weaker left tackles, he could overpower them.
Overall, Werner has a nice skill set, is well-rounded and will give excellent effort. He doesn't have elite speed or power, but he should be a starter and productive player during his NFL career. Werner looks like a solid first-round pick as a base end in a 4-3 defense.
Werner was projected as a top 8 pick in early mocks (if you put stock in those things) and it was only his combine numbers that pulled him down. The Combine has made a fool of many a GM, so I don't personally see that as a problem. I do, however, wonder about scheme fit. Werner seems like he's played most often as a traditional DE, either standing up or with a hand on the ground. I wonder if he'll be able to make the transition. The Colts were able to convert Mathis but not Freeney, though I assume they'll have more luck with a guy that's not only young, but relatively new to football.
Either way, he's a smart player, with good instincts that can add to the pass rush, so I like the pick. He was one of the more productive players on a strong defense in a generally good program against good competition. He's technically "raw" even though he's not, so he still may have a lot of room to grow. I prefer production over measurables, so I'd rather have Werner than Ansah, for example. To me, pass rush was the biggest need on the team, so I think that this was a good pick.
Question, The Colts must feel confident that Werner can make the transition from a 4-3 DE to a 3-4 OLB, but just what percentage of downs did FSU run using a hybrid DL allowing Werner to operate a from a standing stance and how did he do?
While I really like the Werner pick, I share the same concerns that Werner not be able to make the 3-4 OLB transition.
For those who want to make the risk comparisons to Jerry Hughes, my take on Hughes is that, while he has all the raw physical talents, he hesitates because he lacks confidence in his both pre-snap judgement and game speed mental adjustment abilities. Especially while in a 4-3 Hughes was often looking over his shoulder pre-snap at the MLB as if he was looking for directions. Even as a 3-4 OLB, where he should be a better fit, Hughes' body language indicates some uncertainty. I still noticed him looking towards the ILBs, I am still hoping at some point things come together for Hughes and everything clicks.
With Werner, I wonder if the concerns are the flip-side of Hughes. The game films are really promising, but the combine measurable's are a concern. Yet, Werner with his high football IQ, confidence and instincts may be able to maximize his athletic gifts. Lots, of NFL prospects ace the combines because they speed a lot time being "taught to the test" through the development of track & field skills. Werner, instead played lots of basketball in high school and college and soccer as a kid. How much can one therefore discount the combine measurable's, because Werner is a well rounded athlete who will have an ultimately better speed of the game adjustment aptitude.?
Is anyone else amazed that only one QB was taken and excited that there are so many WRs still on the board?
I'm not disappointed in the selection some other colts fans. I like his tape and I think he is more athletic than people think, combine numbers not withstanding. I have no quip with picking werner
Great write up! I remember seeing his name as a top 10 talent on early season big boards, so I love the pick. Hope they adjust the scheme to work to his strengths.
Yeah I agree with @codrutc he is a better rusher standing up, but still gets off the ball quick with his hand in the ground. Good point about the difference between him and Hughes as far as the confidence, I will say that Hughes used to play that way before he got drafted (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITRNdQKO5Eg) and I am not sure if he will ever get it back, he was always the first one off the ball could bend to get around his guy and showed good moves, hopefully that does not happen to Werner.
For me I think what the combine showed as well as what you say on tape was that he was not agile, and then it also showed he had shorter than prototypical arms, which could be a problem when trying to go against long RT's, and the agile part is more about going against quick LT's. No one knows exactly how he will be affected by this at the next level but it is something to keep in mind, because it has been a hindrance to some trying to make the transition in the past.
Also he will have to work hard in the coverage area and I agree that he should be good on the right side when we rush the ends on 3rd downs, but hopefully he ends up developing into more than that, and eventually can take over for Mathins when he leaves, as far as Walden, I think we will need another solution eventually.
I saw him rushing from standing position from the right side in the game against Miami that Marcus posted in the other article and I thought he was more effective that way. Another thing I saw in the videos was that FSU coordinator kept moving him from left to right even thought the majority of snaps were from the left side of the defense.
@hankster DeAndre Hopkins and Justin Hunter were the only WRs I had a lot of interest in in this draft. I don't see WR as a prime need, I'd rather see pass rush, CB and interior line beefed up. Hopkins went off the board in the first, but I wouldn't have minded seeing the Colts take Hunter in the second if they'd have traded back.
However, you know it's a bad WR year when the first guy off the board is overdrafted at 8 and is 5' 8". Sure he's fast, but he's far from prototypical and a huge long term risk at his size. On top of that, he'll never really be a dynamic goal line threat (there will never be a fade route going his way), or a major threat over the medium-short middle. I personally wouldn't have touched the guy until the late first-early second.
@hankster The Colts Authority staff, pointed out that there were no prototypical top 5-10 WRs in this draft combining dazzling speed, size(over 6-2, 225lbs), hands, big time college program pedigree and no off field issues. I agree with Bill Pollian, taking Tavon Austin at #8 was a risk for the Rams. No WR at Austin's size has yet proven to be a durable long term success worthy of that high a pick. I doubt this year there was a true viable top 15 WR pick.
For the Colts 3rd round If the BPA is an OG/C instead of a WR. I would be very happy. Mike Mayock lists 6 out of 9 OG/Cs and 10 out of 13 WRs still available in his top 100 draft players. I think that if you protect Luck, he will be able to make most receivers look good.
IMHO I question if the current likely 2nd - 3rd round WR picks really are really that outstanding. Several have had injury or off field issues. And Mayock is saying there are numerous viable late round WR past the top 100.
I think the Colts will draft a late round WR prospect.
@hankster Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
@RobertItoh Not who I was hoping for, but I agree. I think he'll be a solid starter on the outside.
@mattshedd Good point, by most standards he was one of the best players on the board. I was amazed by how quickly the pick came in, to so I'd say Grigson knew he wanted him. I just hope he contribute pretty quickly since the colts don't have much else to rush the passer with.
@paulcareyjr @codrutc I think the Colts staff already found the solution for Walden and Mathis leave. Hear me out here. With Mathis at the Rush linebacker spot. Jerry Hughes has been effective in that spot in a limited role last year. With more coaching and playing time Jerry Hughes could start turning a corner in his career and contribute how Grigson and the rest of the Colts staff think he will. This will allow for a smooth transition for Hughes and the Colts. Werner can play the SAM linebacker position because of how good he is against the run and setting the edge. Both players are players with a high ceiling that are learning the game at the pro level and possess the versatility due to either intelligence (Werner) or athleticism (Hughes). With how well the coaching staff coaches we could have OLB a solid tandem for the future.
@hankster I think Woods and Allen will be gone by the time we pick, Patton will probably be gone as well as well as Dobson, those are the only guys I see with #1 talent still left. I still think the DB's are very strong and we could find a forsure #2 future number 1 depending on who slips.
Oline should definitely be there as well.