The New Orleans Saints spent their second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Ohio State linebacker, Pete Werner. Some thought this might have been because Zack Baun had a rough rookie campaign and Werner’s rookie season showed that he’s the better player between the two and an unsung hero on the team.
Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com listed each team’s most underappreciated player and Werner was her pick for the Saints.
"Werner’s 8.3 stop percentage was the highest on the Saints last season, and his 62 tackles ranked 14th among rookie defenders, per NGS. The second-year pro played a big part in New Orleans’ defense allowing the lowest yards per rush when using a stacked box (1.6) and the fewest total rushing yards over expected (-208) in the NFL last year. Working with Demario Davis (a former pick in this exercise) is a very big advantage for Werner; expect the duo to continue to pose problems for opposing offenses."
Saints LB Pete Werner deserves more respect
When discussing the Saints’ defense, a lot of people home in on Cameron Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, and Demario Davis, and it makes sense as to why. Those guys have been long-time contributors for the black and gold while Werner is still trying to make a name for himself.
In year one, however, Werner immediately carved out a role in the defense and, as Frelund mentioned, was a huge contributor in stopping the run. She notes how Werner and Davis worked well together and they’re going to continue feasting against opposing offenses.
Maybe the Werner selection was simply the Saints hitting the reset button on the Baun pick not panning out but no matter why the pick was made, it’s worked out well so far. Werner appeared in all but two games last year and racked up 62 tackles, four tackles for loss, and one QB hit during his 15 games.
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The hope in 2022 is that Werner continues to build on his promising rookie campaign and become a leader on the defensive side of the ball.