Indianapolis Colts’ first-round draft pick Bjoern Werner will make it to training camp on time this weekend.
Werner, the 24th overall pick in April, agreed to a contract in principle Wednesday, becoming the last of the Colts’ seven draft picks to reach a deal.
A person familiar with the contract said Werner agreed to a four-year contract worth $7.896 million and will receive a $4.12 million signing bonus. The person, who requested anonymity because the team had not announced terms of the deal, said $6.4 million of the total is guaranteed. The total value is a slight increase over the $7.8 million deal David DeCastro, last year’s No. 24 pick, received from Pittsburgh.
Werner played defensive end at Florida State, but the German-born star will switch to outside linebacker in Indianapolis. He was the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, then skipped his senior season to enter the draft. Werner finished his junior season 13th in the nation with 13 sacks and ranked second in the ACC with 18 tackles for loss. He had 42 tackles (30 solo), eight passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
He didn’t start playing American football until he was 12 years old and only then played flag football. Werner first came to the U.S. as a 15-year-old foreign exchange student. He returned home, then came back to the U.S. for his final season of high school football and played well enough to convince Florida State to take a chance on him. The gamble paid immediate dividends.
As a freshman at Florida State, Werner played in all 14 games. He started his last 27 games with the Seminoles and finished his college career with 99 tackles (63 solo).
His German heritage led to a slew of nicknames – Bjoern to be Wild, The Berlin Wall and The Germanator, a spinoff from a movie Austrian actor Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in – and plenty of mispronunciations of his name. When Werner was introduced to the Indianapolis media, he noted that even the Florida State public address couldn’t get his name right.
But when he ran a 4.83-second 40-yard dash at the NFL’s annual scouting combine, the slower-than-expected time prompted some teams to move him down on their draft boards.
Actually, the time was almost identical time to that posted by Terrell Suggs at the 2003 combine. Suggs, then a 6-foot-2, 263-pounds college defensive end, was taken 10th in that year by Baltimore, then moved to linebacker and emerged as one of the league’s top pass-rushers. Suggs was the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year in 2003 and won the league’s defensive player of the year award in 2011 when Chuck Pagano was running the Ravens defense.
Pagano, now in his second season as Indy’s head coach, has brought Baltimore’s 3-4 scheme to the Colts.
Indianapolis is holding a three-day rookie mini-camp at the team complex before players report to training camp at Anderson University on Saturday.