Pete Werner is starting to shine on the New Orleans Saints defense, further proving their 2021 NFL Draft class has immediate contributors.
The New Orleans Saints are firmly in the race for the playoffs in the NFC through five weeks, and they’ve done so without Terron Armstead for a portion and Michael Thomas. Jameis Winston isn’t playing too bad, and his playmakers are stepping up when needed. The defense has been stepping up too, and part of that is from the rookie class from the 2021 NFL Draft.
One of those players is linebacker Pete Werner. Werner, a second round pick in the 2021 draft, has drastically seen his snap count increase every week. He played 63 percent of snaps against the Giants and 99 percent against Washington, and he’s been a big factor in that time. The box score would agree, as he’s had 23 tackles and one tackle for loss.
Obviously the box score doesn’t tell the whole story, but the film has been very good as well. Werner was a very good with block deconstruction in college, and had great processing ability in the run game and in coverage.
That’s translated to the NFL well. Werner was a factor in both phases Sunday. He had a fantastic rep against Washington tackle Charles Leno Jr., staying engaged to turn Antonio Gibson back inside and then shedding at the last moment to make the tackle. He dipped well under contact to make plays and got downhill in a flash when an alley opened up on perimeter runs. Werner stayed true to his assignment in man coverage, and showed he can drop well into coverage, getting deep enough to take away intermediate throws and carry his opponents up the seam.
As Pete Werner gets more comfortable in the New Orleans Saints defense, his processing will only get better as it speeds up. His comfort in zone coverage and his ability to get off blocks will be crucial for the defense going forward. Werner could be a cornerstone on the defense sooner than later, and once again show how well the Saints have drafted of late.