As the New Orleans Saints head to Baltimore for their first preseason game of the season, the team must find valuable contributors from the 2021 draft class.
With the 60th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Saints selected Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner who has continued to improve throughout training camp. As the Saints embark on a new era under Coach Sean Payton, Werner may be a player to keep an eye on this weekend when the Saints square off against the Ravens.
During his time with Ohio State, Werner amassed over 180 total tackles along with four sacks and four forced fumbles over his career. Equally important, at 6’3″ and 238 pounds, Werner showed the ability to cover the down the field with 13 passes deflected during his time as a Buckeye. Werner displayed a great nose for the ball along with high football acumen finishing his collegiate career being selected to the 2020 All-Big Ten Conference Team.
Since July 27, the Saints have been in training camp and the young linebacker has continued to improve each day, catching the eye of Payton. In a recent press conference, Payton was asked about the development of the young player and he stated:
"I think so far he’s looked really smart. That’s a key strength of his. Ultimately, you get into tackling when the preseason starts, and you look to see the results. He’s picked things up quickly."
After years of defensive setbacks, the New Orleans Saints defense catapulted to one of the league’s best defensive teams, ranking No. 4 in total defense across the entire NFL. Throughout this time, the Saints defensive line dominated opposing offenses holding teams to less than 100 yards rushing per game.
This offseason the Saints defense has parted ways with key members of the 2020 defensive unit such as Janoris Jenkins, Trey Hendrickson, and the recently retired Patrick Robinson. Moreover, as the Saints deal with a transition at the quarterback position it is crucial the defense maintain its recent success.
Furthermore, the Saints have recently re-signed talented linebacker Kwon Alexander who was able to quickly recover from the Achilles injury that sidelined him last season. With All-Pro linebacker Demario Davis leading the defense, expect Werner to learn valuable skills from the talented linebacker duo.
As the Saints head to preseason, Werner must continue to develop and quickly adapt to the speed of NFL offenses. If Werner can continue to progress expect the New Orleans Saints defense to have the best linebacker core in the entire NFL.