Bjoern Werner is the perfect example of a “tweener” DE. At 6’4 and barely 260lbs, he’d be considered light for the 4-3 DE spot. He will likely be worked out at LB at the Combine, and could be appealing to teams that utilize the 3-4 and are in need of an OLB. With that said, there are plenty of examples of DE’s in Werner’s height/weight range that have had great careers in the 4-3.
When I popped in Werner’s film, I wanted to see the following things: First, how quick is he? I’m not overly concerned with how fast a DE is. But if he has top-end quickness, he’s got a shot to be a good pass rusher. Remember: A DE doesn’t have to run 40 yards to get to the QB. The quick, sudden athlete is preferred when projecting a pass rusher. Second, what kind of body does he have? Does he have long arms, or is he on the stocky side? A pass rushing DE has to be able to fend off the 34 to 35 inch arms of the opposing LT. If a DE has a stocky build, he’s less likely to be effective. Third, does he play to the whistle? A DE has to have a non-stop motor. He has to be going full speed from snap to whistle. Time and time again, the DE that continues to hustle and never stops pursuing the QB or ball carrier is the player that either makes the sack, TFL, or creates a turnover. If a player is loafing or taking plays off, they must be immediately downgraded. Finally, are they a one trick pony? Do they rely on the same pass rush move every time? Elite college DE’s can get by with one unblockable pass rushing move. Whether it’s a bull rush, rip, or flat out speed to the edge, a DE with one, and only one, pass rushing move will struggle on the next level. Pro linemen learn tendencies, and neutralize them, after a few days of film study. It’s the prospect that shows diversity in the way that they get to the QB that has a chance to be a top-level player in the NFL.
So how did Werner fair against Wake Forrest? I decided to breakdown each category listed above:
The one thing that immediately jumped out at me was how quick Werner is.