Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner started playing football in Germany at age 15 before moving to the United States. He was highly-productive in college, totaling an ACC-best 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in 2012.
Werner is an athletic defensive end with quick-twitch ability. He ran a 4.83 40-yard dash at the Combine—about average for a pass-rusher his size—but he’s consistently the first player off of the ball. Werner translates that into an effective speed rush, and he combines that with excellent hand usage to get to the passer.
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There could be concern over Werner’s height. At 6-3 with 33 1/4-inch arms, he doesn’t have the elite length that often coincides with success at the defensive end position. It can show in the running game, as Werner has trouble getting off of blocks at times. He’s still decent as a run defender, but he has problems shedding blocks once engaged.
Werner is really still developing, so his upside is outstanding. He has the potential be an impact pass-rusher as a rookie. Werner could benefit from adding some strength to help him overcome his shorter frame in the running game. If he can better hold up at the point-of-attack, he could be a three-down player.
NFL Comparison: Jason Babin
Babin is another pass-rusher with a relatively short build. I see Werner as a more consistent version of Babin—someone who can attain double-digit sacks in the NFL on a consistent basis.
Opinions on Werner are split because of he doesn’t have elite size or explosiveness. The easiest way to tell if a player is going to succeed in the NFL, though, is to look at his college productivity. Werner had it, and there’s not much reason to think he won’t be able to translate his skill set to the NFL. He’s very much still in play as a top 10 pick.
Fit In Dallas
Yes, the Cowboys recently franchised Anthony Spencer, but there’s still a small chance that they could trade him. Plus, there’s a really good chance that Spencer won’t be in Dallas in 2014. The ‘Boys really need to find their pass-rusher of the future right now. Werner has the ability to be a true No. 1 defensive end. Although the position isn’t the team’s biggest need right now, Werner will undoubtedly be a consideration for the Cowboys if they have him ranked in the top 10 and he drops to their pick at No. 18.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.