- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Erik Walden may be the Colts' starting strongside linebacker.
But the free-agent addition is far better against the run than as a pass-rusher, and Indianapolis rated as thin in the pass-rushing department after Robert Mathis.
Bjoern Werner, who was selected 24th overall in the NFL draft out of Florida State, shouldn’t be a surprise.
He’s a high-motor player with great size at 6-foot-3, 266 pounds. I’ve seen comparisons to Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan and St. Louis’ Chris Long. Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano said the college end will be a 3-4 outside linebacker.
He brings a quick first step, strong hands and a very good football IQ considering he has played for only five years.
Ideally, he’ll be a passing-down presence right from the start, basically inheriting the role Dwight Freeney held, but didn’t excel at, last season.
At the combine, general manager Ryan Grigson told us he sometimes roots for a player he likes to have a poor combine performance, because it will scare others away. It worked that way with fifth-round running back Vick Ballard last year.
It may have helped with Werner, too. He ran a 4.81 at the combine.
Via Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star, Grigson said of Werner: "You put on the film, he's the first guy off the ball every down. He's got great get-off. His closing speed is excellent on film. He plays the game at a higher rate of speed."
The Colts chose Werner over cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who many of us thought looked the part for a Chuck Pagano corner. They could have had the draft’s second wide receiver too.