By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
Indianapolis-based USA Football helped Bjoern Werner come to America.
Now the former Florida State star and German native will make his home in the Circle City.
The Colts looked past a less than stellar performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, and focused instead of Werner’s 13 sacks last season with the Seminoles and his status as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.
“He’s a hell of a football player,” general manager Ryan Grigson said. “You turn on the film, and he jumps off at you. He’s one of those guys you watch and you say he’s not going to be there (at 24).”
Werner came to the Salisbury School in Connecticut as part of USA Football’s International Student Program but never played a down of American football until he was a teenager.
He arrived in America knowing very little English but became a star on the gridiron by his sophomore season. He was heavily recruited and chose Florida State, where he made 27 starts and recorded 23.5 sacks in three seasons.
With the Colts, Werner will line up as an outside linebacker opposite Robert Mathis. And his best football could still be ahead of him.
“He’ll be the first one to tell you he’s still learning,” Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano said. “He has a very high ceiling, and his future is very bright.”
Grigson and Pagano traveled down to Tallahassee for a private workout, and both men came away convinced Werner has the versatility to play either outside linebacker position in Pagano’s hybrid 3-4 scheme.
That allowed the Colts to look past a 4.8-second time in the 40-yard dash and trust the player they saw on film.
“You shouldn’t let a great player slide by you,” Grigson said, “because he didn’t run a great 40 time.”