News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 26, 2013

Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round

Plan is to convert defensive end to outside linebacker

Tom James
The Tribune-Star

INDIANAPOLIS — It may have taken awhile, but the Indianapolis Colts made their first round pick of the 2013 National Football League a good one.

Nearly three hours after the draft got underway at 8 p.m., the Colts selected Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. The 6-foot-3, 266-pound defensive lineman can also play left outside linebacker.

Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson had said last week that he would consider moving down and out of the first round if the player the Colts wanted wasn’t there. But that didn’t happen.

According to Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano, the versatile Werner was the guy that they had their sights set on from the get-go. They felt lucky that he was still around when the 24th overall came around.

“He’s a hell of a football player. Thirteen sacks [last season for the Seminoles], [Atlantic Coast Conference] Player of the Year. You turn on the film and he jumps off the screen at you,” the second-year Colts general manager said.

“He’s one of those guys you watch and immediately say he’s not going to be there [when the Colts made their first round pick].”

A slow 40-yard dash time (4.8) at February’s National Football Scouting Combine may have caused other NFL teams to push Werner further down their list of prospective players. But what transpired at the combine didn’t bother Grigson, Pagano or the rest of the Colts’ player personnel department.

“You take the combine with a grain of salt. It factors, but you shouldn’t let a great player slide by because he didn’t blow out a great 40 time,” This guy is productive, plays hard. Eight batted passes [last] year I believe plus 13 sacks. A ton of [tackles for loss]. He’s a team player too. He fits [Pagano’s] mold as a human being and a football player,” Grigson quickly pointed out.

A native of Berlin, Germany, Werner played only two years of high school football in Connecticut before winding up at Florida State. He also played club football for a year in his native Germany.

While he primarily played defensive end in Florida State’s 4-3 defensive scheme, Pagano thinks Werner can also be a productive standup outside linebacker.

“He’s an outside linebacker. First and second down, he’s an edge setter in the run game. He can certainly do that. He’s a dynamic pass rusher. We obviously knew that we needed to address that. Just so happened that we addressed it and he was the highest player on the board at the time,” the Indianapolis coach said.

“We can do a lot of things with this guy. Having a guy like this come in and add to the mix with the other guys like [defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Mathis]. Having a guy come off the edge and being productive as he was in college, he can do a lot of things for us. Obviously, we’re really excited about having Bjoern.”

Werner is happy to come to Indianapolis.

“They [the Colts] showed a lot of interest,” the former Florida State standout said during a brief phone interview after the first round. “I was so happy. It’s one of the best programs out there right now. One of the hottest programs.

“Just being a part of it. Coach Pagano, I really connected with him when he worked me out [before the draft] a few weeks ago. I wished they would draft me. I can’t wait to meet all the coaches and all my teammates.”

Werner is scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis this afternoon for the formal press conference.

* Eifert to Bengals – Former Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, who grew up in Fort  Wayne and attended Bishop Dwenger High School, was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 21st overall pick.

Eifert, the 2013 recepient of the John Mackey Award – who goes to the nation’s best collegiate tight end – hauled in 50 passes for 685 yards and four touchdowns for the Irish last season.

* Patterson to Vikings – Former University of Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who was coached in junior college by Indiana State running backs coach Jayden Everett, was selected by Minnesota with the 29th overall pick of the first round.

* Just one Big Ten – Wisconsin center Travis Frederick was the only Big Ten Conference player taken in the first round. Frederick was selected by Dallas with the 31st overall pick.

It’s the fewest Big Ten Conference players taken in the first round since 1953 when no conference players were selected.