Pete Werner named best Saints rookie from 2021 draft class
By Kristen Wong
All the P’s from the New Orleans Saints’ 2021 draft class have served the team well so far: Paulson Adebo, Payton Turner, and Pete Werner. But one has been named the best.
In hindsight, the Saints’ 2021 draft picks could have been better. Had New Orleans nabbed Elijah Moore, for example, fans may not want to punch a wall every time the Saints’ offense takes the field.
But the past is the past, and one can only hope Sean Payton chooses more wisely in 2022.
For now, all eyes are turned upon the Saints’ young and potential stars in the making.
Alex Kay of Bleacher Report recently revealed a list of every NFL team’s best rookie from the 2021 NFL Draft, and some of the picks were self-explanatory: Patriots’ Mac Jones, Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase, Cowboys’ Micah Parsons.
For the Saints, Kay picked Pete Werner:
"While Werner played a higher percentage of snaps earlier in the season—he racked up a career-high 13 tackles while playing almost every snap in Week 5—he’s done enough for the Saints to feel comfortable deploying him in more than a rotational role going forward."
Is Pete Werner the New Orleans Saints’ highest-performing rookie in 2021?
As the 60th overall pick in the NFL Draft, Werner has quickly adapted to a rotational role in New Orleans’ linebacking corps this season.
The former Ohio State product played in nine games and started six, recording 42 tackles and one quarterback hit. He’s played 47 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and 36 percent of special teams snaps.
Picking an obscure linebacker in the second round seemed like a peculiar decision at the time, but most would say the Saints have gotten a good return on Werner. He owns a 76.0 PFF grade and continues to improve week after week, though his usage does seem dependent on the Saints’ defensive schemes.
Werner played just 14 percent of defensive snaps in Week 11’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles compared to playing 42 percent of defensive snaps in Week 10.
Against a tough Bills side in Week 12, Werner’s playtime will yet again be scheme-dependent, but he has proven to be a mostly reliable linebacker in recent games.
As long as Werner continues learning from veterans Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander, his future should be bright with the Saints.