Colts castoff Bjoern Werner may be another late bloomer

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Bjoern Werner  AFP PHOTO

Bjoern Werner
AFP PHOTO

There was a ho-hum reaction when Buffalo traded with Indianapolis for defensive end Jerry Hughes back in the 2013 offseason.

Back then, Hughes was a bust.

All he’s done since is record 25 sacks over the last three seasons.

Hughes had been a bad scheme fit with the Colts after being drafted in the first round (31st overall) in 2010.


In three seasons in Indianapolis, Hughes recorded five sacks. He was traded on April 29 that year for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, who lasted one season in Indianapolis and is now with Miami.

Bjoern Werner has a similar story to Hughes.

The Jaguars were wise to see if he’ll have a similar breakthrough in a new setting. General manager Dave Caldwell signed Werner on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

Werner is a first-round bust. Indianapolis drafted him in the first round in the 2013 draft with the 24th overall pick. He recorded 6 + sacks in three seasons and was cut in March.

Like Hughes, the Colts badly misused Werner’s skill set. He barely even had his hand on the ground last season after being moved to linebacker.

That won’t be the case with the Jaguars.

Werner is a Leo. He’s here to rush the quarterback from the ideal position in coach Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme. He’ll always be lined up at the weak-side end spot.

Nothing will be expected. If he’s cut after the preseason, the franchise won’t be negatively affected in the slightest.

But, don’t count the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Werner out. He’s still just 25 years old.

You can bet after being a healthy inactive in six games last season, Werner wants to prove Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano (who both inherited him) wrong.

Hughes did. He spent his first two seasons under coach Jim Caldwell and legendary general manager Bill Polian. Grigson and Pagano had Hughes on the roster for their first season in 2012 before trading him.

They didn’t see a player capable of success. The Bills signed Hughes to a five-year, $45 million contract with $22 million guaranteed in March of last year.

No one thinks Hughes is a bust now. The only thing busted was Indianapolis’ perception of him.

Why can’t Werner be the same story? It’s worth finding out.

The Jaguars have talent at the Leo position, but it’s unproven.

The starter is Dante Fowler, who has recovered from his season-ending knee injury last May but hasn’t played since being the third overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Rookie Yannick Ngakoue, this year’s third-round choice, is expected to be a situational pass rusher at the Leo spot.

Werner has an opportunity here. The Jaguars obviously liked what they saw in his workout to sign him.

TNS

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