The New Orleans Saints addressed a big need on the defensive side of the ball on Friday evening by drafting Ohio State LB Pete Werner in the second-round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Much like the team's day one selection, the second round choice came as a bit of a surprise to many but for a different reason. The positional need made a lot of sense however, Werner's pre-draft profile did not have him as highly touted as others at his position.
The 6-3, 238 pound defensive standout at Ohio State should compete for a starting job in New Orleans right away and fits the mold of a Sean Payton prototype perfectly. His football intelligence and excellent tackling ability will translate well at the next level but he needs to prove he can cover some of the best athletes in the game.
The Saints News Krewe give their grades and thoughts on the selection below.
Linebacker was a need for the Saints, and they certainly addressed it by taking Ohio State's Pete Werner. Fans were probably hopeful of them looking at LSU's Jabril Cox, and his freefall has been something. Regardless, New Orleans make a nice pick getting Werner. Werner brings size and versatility to the table to go along with some range that pairs up with good tackling and coverage.
He's one of those picks that may not seem that exciting, but he's a guy who comes in and does work. He told us last night, "I'm an easy going guy. When it's time to go, it's time to go." "I'm going to go until the whistle blows. I'm excited to show what I got." That's what fans should be looking for, as he undoubtedly will have some competition to beat out, but looks to earn a solid role on the roster with starting potential.
Just like their first round choice of Payton Turner, I just didn't get the value of Pete Werner in the second round. He's an extremely intelligent player. Werner has nice quickness and recognition ability around the line of scrimmage. I can see him working into the starting lineup quickly, but he simply doesn't have the open field athleticism to be effective in space and will probably struggle in coverage.
The Saints filled what I felt was the second largest position of need headed into the draft. Werner, a high football IQ linebacker, is just the latest Ohio State Buckeye to call New Orleans home. And with the success of the Ohio State - New Orleans connection this selection should come as no surprise.
Now this selection will rub some of the Who Dat Nation the wrong way. LSU LB Jabril Cox was still on the board and Werner's sneaky athleticism does not jump off the page like some of the draft's other linebacker prospects. This pick does however pick the Sean Payton mold or "prototype".
I expect Werner to compete from day one for a starting job. He is a sure tackler with decent coverage skills that need to grow at the next level. It may not be a "sexy pick" but New Orleans is getting a lunch pale type of guy from their top College Football pipeline.
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