Pete Werner Selected by New Orleans Saints with No. 60 Overall Pick in 2021 NFL Draft

By Colin Hass-Hill on April 30, 2021 at 9:16 pm
Pete Werner

Another Buckeye is headed to New Orleans.

A three-year starting linebacker for Ohio State, Werner is headed to the New Orleans Saints with the No. 60 overall pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

He followed first-round pick Justin Fields as the second former Buckeye to be selected in this year's draft.

Werner is the seventh Ohio State linebacker to be selected in the first four rounds of the draft since 2014, joining Ryan Shazier (No. 15 overall pick in 2014), Darron Lee (No. 20 overall pick in 2016), Joshua Perry (fourth-round pick in 2016), Raekwon McMillan (second-round pick in 2017), Jerome Baker (third-round pick in 2018) and Malik Harrison (third-round pick in 2020).

He becomes the fifth Buckeye on the Saints' roster, joining Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, Malcolm Jenkins and Nick Vannett.

“This is almost the capital for guys coming out of Ohio State, so it feels great to be one of those guys,” Werner said shortly after being selected by the Saints. “Being a Saint is everybody's dream, so finding a great place like New Orleans is unbelievable.”

For three years spanning tenures of two head coaches and two linebackers coaches, Werner locked down a spot on the second level of the defense. The 6-foot-3, 238-pounder racked up 185 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss and four sacks, across his four seasons in Columbus. He maxed out at 64 tackles in 2019 but managed 54 tackles in an eight-game 2020 season. Also, he had 13 passes defended, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Perhaps more than anything else, Werner was lauded for his versatility and dependability as a Buckeye. To the surprise of some, the Indianapolis native once rated as a top-300 recruit started at strongside linebacker as a true sophomore. He held onto the job once Al Washington took over for Billy Davis, then moved inside the box to line up at weakside linebacker as a senior. Werner's coaches asked him to do it all. He blitzed, covered out of the backfield, dropped back as a de facto safety, played on the edge and had to navigate the tackle box.

His athleticism was often underrated, as well, and helped lead him to become an intriguing option in this year's draft. At Ohio State's pro day, he clocked a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and recorded a 39.5-inch vertical leap.

“He's a guy that we thought a lot of,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said after drafting Werner. “Very athletic, great instincts, tough, played Will linebacker (at Ohio State) but we see him having some versatility. Real good in pass coverage and super smart. Really high, high football makeup.

“All of his coaches, all of the people involved at Ohio State speak so highly of him ... There's just a lot of things to like.”

Prior to the draft, Werner was viewed as an early-to-mid-round prospect with an early second-round ceiling and fourth-round floor. The Athletic's Dane Brugler had him rated as the ninth-best linebacker with a third-to-fourth-round projection, and ESPN's Todd McShay rated him as the seventh-best inside linebacker and 99th-best overall draftee.

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