If the New Orleans Saints want to have a successful season in 2022, they will need to see production from their entire roster, but especially their 2021 draft class.
First round defensive end Payton Turner missed most of last season due to injury. Third round quarterback Ian Book struggled when forced into action. Third round cornerback Paulson Adebo played well with starter’s minutes, but second round linebacker Pete Werner was the standout from the draft class last season.
Bleacher Report recently named Werner as the best-kept secret on the Saints’ roster:
As a rookie with the New Orleans Saints in 2021, linebacker Pete Werner played 40 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, making 62 tackles across 15 games. From Week 10 on, however, the youngster made just two starts. It was an up-and-down inaugural season.
However, Werner is hardly the first young player to take some time acclimating to the NFL, and as Corey Rholdon reported for WBRZ-TV, new head coach Dennis Allen sees a player in Werner who is much more comfortable and confident heading into his second season.
“I just see a more confident player. Confidence in what we’re doing schematically, you know, he’s kind of he’s kind of stepped into that starting role at the Will linebacker spot,” Allen said. ”One year under the belt, things start to slow down and becomes a little bit easier. You can pick up on certain tendencies played a little bit faster, understand what’s coming rather than kind of reacting in certain situations,”
Demario Davis is the unquestioned No. 1 linebacker in New Orleans, but he isn’t getting any younger and the team needs someone to step up opposite him in the nickel.
Werner has the talent to be that player—and to do bigger and better things in 2022.
With the Saints seemingly comfortable moving on from Kwon Alexander, it will be Pete Werner who will likely be asked to be the primary linebacker next to Demario Davis in 2022. If Werner continues to improve, Payton Turner shows he can rush the passer for a full season like he did in limited action before injury, and if Paulson Adebo continues to show he can stick with opposing wide receivers, the Saints defense could be one of the best in the NFL. Pete Werner might just be the most important of the lot, though. If Werner plays well in pass coverage and run defense, he allows the Saints secondary to not stack the box to play the run and the Saints defensive line to have extra time to get to the quarterback if Werner has locked down the opposing tight end in pass coverage. That is to say, if Werner (and Demario) play well, the level of play of the entire defense will be elevated.