DE Bjoern Werner's overseas route to the NFL Combine makes him an intriguing prospect for the Lions

Posted Feb 23, 2013

Florida State DE Bjoern Werner's path to the NFL began with flag football in Germany

Bjoern WernerINDIANAPOLIS - Bjoern Werner said his first experience with the NFL Scouting Combine was back in Germany as a kid when he and his flag football teammates would crowd around a computer and watch the event online.

"I remember watching Chris Long and Mario Williams," Werner said. "Every year we watched it. It was a big event. All the football players just gathered around a wanted to watch it.

"It was my dream (to one day be here) but I was only 12, 13 and 14 years old. I wouldn't have imagined I'd be at the Combine."

Werner, 22, found his way to Indianapolis in one of the more unconventional ways.

He started playing flag football at age 12 and familiarized himself with the NFL by playing the Madden video games. He said he used to take all the league's best players and put them on one team called: Team Werner.

Werner's own journey to the Combine this weekend is an interesting tale.

He joined a club team in the sixth grade on the suggestion of a friend, who thought he had "pretty good hands" after playing catch with Werner.

He played flag football until the age of 15, which is when German boys are allowed to play tackle football.

"It was just the most amazing feeling hitting people," Werner said of falling in love with the game.

Werner's tackle football coach in Germany saw his potential and thought he should play high school football in America and go through the recruiting process with the goal of one day getting to the Combine and being drafted.

"I never looked back persuing that dream," Werner said. "Good thing I never looked back and questioned myself and just (went) and took the opportunities I had."

Werner got stateside via the USA Football International Student Program in 2007 and picked the Salisbury school in Salisbury, Connecticut of a list of 50 schools.

Werner spoke no English, but said he learned in two months after being thrown into American culture.

He earned a scholarship to Florida State after two years of high school football at Salisbury. He got better every season at Florida State, recording 42 tackles, 13 sacks and 18 tackles for loss as a junior this past season.

Considered among the top defensive ends available in the draft, Werner is a player without a lot of holes in his game. No particular part of his game stands out though, either.

He probably described his game best to reporters Saturday.

"I've got everything a little bit," he said. "I'm athletic enough. I'm smart enough. I have the instincts. There's nothing I'm lacking of really bad, but there's nothing that stands out really good.

"My goal is to be the overall defensive end who can be in on every situation and you can throw any situation, I want to be in there and I can handle it."

The Lions are on the lookout for an impact defensive player in the draft and Werner is someone they'll certainly have their eye on over the next week and the next month leading up to April's NFL Draft.