Ohio State LB Pete Werner taken by New Orleans Saints in second round

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Linebacker Pete Werner has been selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints.

Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner was taken by the New Orleans Saints in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night.

Werner was the 60th overall selection. He is the second Buckeye taken in the 2021 draft. The Chicago Bears picked quarterback Justin Fields with the 11th pick on Thursday.

Werner was a three-year starter for the Buckeyes, impressing with his athleticism, versatility and intelligence. The 6-3, 238-pounder led the Buckeyes with 54 tackles in eight games last year. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.

"I think that’s one of the biggest pieces I bring to the table," Werner said of his versatility. "I can fit in the A or B gap as well as lock down a tight end or fit well in a zone. I think that versatility helped me a ton headed into this draft."

Though Werner was a four-star prospect out of Indianapolis Cathedral, he was the fourth-lowest ranked recruit in Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class. He became a starter as a sophomore in 2018 and endured some growing pains as the Buckeyes’ defense struggled that year.

He, and the Buckeyes’ defense, was much-improved in 2019. Occasionally, Werner even lined up as a safety. Last year, coaches moved Werner from the strongside linebacker to the weakside, and Werner continued to flourish.

"I think he's playing as good as anybody in the country at linebacker,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said before the Big Ten championship, Werner’s fourth in his hometown. “He's very versatile with what he can do at Will. He's having a major impact on the game.

“We're going to miss his leadership next year. We're going to miss his production. And we'll miss him as a person. He's a special young man on the field and off.”

The Saints have long favored Ohio State players. New Orleans already has four Buckeyes on their roster -- Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore and Nick Vannett.