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This is the third in a 20-part series examining some possibilities for the Browns in the 2013 NFL Draft, including extensive looks at the most likely prospects for the No. 6 overall selection, potential targets later in the draft, trade-down scenarios, what the other teams in the AFC North might do and the top players coming out of Ohio State and the Mid-American Conference.
Each morning will bring a new, daily posting leading up the NFL Scouting Combine on Feb 20.
Today, we continue with a German-born pass rusher with some early projections to be taken by the Browns by some outlets despite only five years of playing football under his belt.
Bjoern Werner, Florida State, Junior
Height/weight: 6-foot-4, 256 pounds.
2012 Stats: 42 tackles, 13 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss.
Current overall prospect ranks: NFLDraftScout.com: 2nd; Scout's Inc: 7th; ESPN's Todd McShay: 10th; ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr: 7th
Current projected draft position: Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com has Werner being taken off the board with the No. 2 pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com and McShay have Werner going to the Oakland Raiders with the next pick at No. 3. And Kiper currently has the Browns taking Werner at No. 6 overall.
Overview: Werner grew up a German-born (Berlin) soccer player before hurting his ankle and switching to football when he was 15. He played two seasons of high school football in Connecticut before coming to Florida State and turning heads. As a sophomore in 2011, Werner earned a starting job in the spring and racked up seven sacks, second on the team. Last season, he dropped about 20 pounds before the season en route to being named ACC Defensive Player of the Year in what was just his fifth year of playing American football. Not bad for someone who in early January said he had to explain the draft process to his bewildered parents, as it's very different from how a European soccer prospect would pick his team when turning professional.
What they're saying: Werner is already drawing comparisons to the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt because of his football awareness and motor. Werner has a quick first-step and can bend the edge to beat tackles off the snap. ...Shows a high football IQ despite only playing five seasons, does a nice job of following the quarterback's eyes and can bat down passes. ...Shows very good natural leverage, balance rushing the passer. ...Can defend the run, using strong hands to work on blockers, but has room to improve in this area. ... Strong tackler. ... Best fit appears to be as a 4-3 defensive end but is athletic enough to go to OLB in a 3-4, though there are concerns if he's often asked to drop back in coverage. ... Plays with a "lunch pail" mentality, consistent motor. ... Consistently gives second effort and chases down ball carriers in pursuit. ... Quiet, hard-working.
NFLDraftScout.com comparison: Chris Long, DE, St. Louis Rams.
Why he fits the Browns' needs: Obviously a quick learner, Werner is a naturally gifted pass rusher with a high football IQ for his position who could be the second overall pick in April. While there are some concerns, the Browns' switching to a 3-4 multi-front scheme means they could use some linebackers, and Werner is thought to be athletic enough to make the transition. He's at his best when rushing the passer, using his hands and leverage to beat offensive tackles and has the balance and awareness to swat down passes at the line and disrupt passing lanes. The question will be whether he can stand up, defending the run from that position on a consistent basis and occasionally dropping into coverage (perhaps he could attack as a rush end on most plays, but Jabaal Sheard may not be any more verse in these aspects than Werner. So one would have to be out there.). As a purely athletic pass rusher, there might not be a better option. Kiper projected the Browns to select Werner before the hiring of Horton, a 3-4 man, but it was already a belief the defense would run more of a 3-4 scheme to begin with.