11 Jul Preseason Scouting Notes: Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State
Senior | 6’3” 242 lbs | Indianapolis, IN
A fast, physical linebacker with natural coverage skills who struggles to shed blocks
As a second-year starter, Pete Werner stepped up and became a leader on the field for the Buckeyes, all while having his fair share of production. At the end of his junior season, Werner finished second on the team in tackles, which earned him honorable mention All-Big10 honors. Ohio State plays in a 4-3-4 or 4-4-3 defensive scheme where Werner a hybrid player. He mainly plays as one of the off-ball OLBs, but occasionally will shift back into the secondary as a single-high Safety. As they have lost some key defensive pieces to the NFL, Ohio State will have to use Werner’s abilities to the fullest to keep them in playoff contention.
– Recognizes and diagnoses plays before they happen
– Proper, physical tackling technique. He does not shy away from contact
– Zone coverage skills. He patrols his zone(s) smoothly and effectively while keeping his eyes on the QB, disrupting routes of receivers, and passing receivers off to other zones
– He is able to line up wide or in the slot to cover TEs or other receivers
– Does not allow many YAC
– Instincts kick in when deciding which gaps to shoot and when in the run game
– Good motor throughout the entire game. He is always showing effort and does not give up on plays
– Consistently communicates with teammates pre-snap
Areas to improve:
– Struggles to shed blocks against all positions
– Loses track of his coverage responsibility if he is too focused on the QB
– Man coverage skills. He gets beaten off the line of scrimmage by precise route runners
– Continuously bites on run fakes
– Blitz snaps are a rarity. When he does blitz, he takes bad angles and over pursues the QB
It will be interesting to see how Ohio State will use Pete Werner for his fourth and final season with the Buckeyes. Will he be used more as a true linebacker, or will they shift him around the field and throw him into more coverage situations? Coverage linebackers are highly valued in the NFL and Werner possesses the skillset to be just that. Based on just his athleticism and overall coverage skills, Werner could possibly be picked early-mid day 3. If he can use his strength to disengage from blocks and is given more chances to blitz this season and produces, he could possibly even go mid-late day 2.
What to watch in 2020:
Will Ohio State give Werner the chance to blitz more frequently? Throughout his career with the Buckeyes, Werner has rarely been given the opportunity to blitz. Linebackers in the NFL need to be able to blitz and produce sacks, but it’s difficult to determine if Werner is capable of such if he doesn’t get the chance. Can Werner become a lockdown defender in man coverage? He has the tools to be an excellent coverage linebacker at the next level, but he needs to lessen how often he gets beat off the line of scrimmage. If he can become a lockdown defender, Werner will be an extremely valuable asset to an NFL team.