Pete Werner - Linebacker, Ohio State
By the numbers:
6'3", 242 pounds.
2020: 54 tackles (2.5 for loss), two forced fumbles, one sack and one pass broken up in eight games played.
Pete Werner is one of the more underrated linebacker prospects in this year's class, and his athleticism is perhaps his most overlooked trait. He has good top-end and closing speed, flips his hips quickly in coverage and is light on his feet. This helps him keep up with tight ends and some running backs when necessary. Werner is comfortable with any coverage assignment and can work vertically, outside the hashes and in the flats.
Run defense is also a strength for Werner. His stack and shed ability is good, using his 242-pound frame to shoot gaps and hit hard. He's well-built and has the strength to disengage and control angles as he pursues the ballcarrier. Playing all three linebacker spots (MIKE, SAM, WILL) in college, Werner is a jack-of-all-trades with plenty of experience and a very high floor.
Werner's game doesn't come with many downsides. Perhaps the only question mark with him is whether he can rely on his instincts more often. He has a wait-and-see approach that sometimes causes him to fall behind. He's reactive when information is in front of him and he processes quickly, but his hesitance shows up when reading the quarterback's eyes and also on the occasional misdirection run. Luckily, Werner's athleticism helps him make up for this sporadic display of extreme patience.
How Werner fits with the Chiefs:
Werner is a great fit with the Chiefs, both positionally and in terms of how the roster is currently structured. He projects as a solid 4-3 SAM linebacker at the next level and is athletic enough to stay on in sub-packages if needed, although Willie Gay Jr.'s feature will likely come in those situations. Damien Wilson's departure opens the door for someone like Werner, and he'd be a long-term solution at a position the Chiefs have patched together for years.
There are many players in this class with higher ceilings than Werner, but not many will be capable of making an instant impact like him. He has plus athleticism, is a tough run defender and is familiar with many coverage concepts. He's a plug-and-play prospect capable of starting on day one for nearly any NFL team. If the Chiefs are thinking linebacker at pick No. 63, Werner makes a lot of sense. He grades out as a late second-round or early third-round pick who should go in the top 75.