INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts general manager Ryan Grigson ignored the times and watched Bjoern Werner's game tape.
What he saw was a football player who plays fast -- certainly fast enough to outweigh concerns over his 40-yard dash times. So when the Colts saw the 6-foot-3, 266-pound defensive end from Florida State available with the 24th pick overall Thursday night, they wasted no time in passing up trade offers and selected the native German who they're planning to move to outside linebacker.
"You turn on the film and he jumps off the screen at you. He's one of those guys you watch and immediately say, 'He's not going to be there,'" Grigson said. "But like we talked from the beginning, you take the combine with a grain of salt. It factors, but you shouldn't let a great player slide by you because he didn't blow out a great 40 time. This guy is productive, plays hard, is a team player too and fits coach's mold as a human being and a football player."
If the transition from defensive end to linebacker goes as smoothly as the one Werner made from soccer to American football, the Colts will have a steal. Werner said he changed sports at age 12, starting with two years of flag football. That's three years earlier than listed on his bio.
Neither that discrepancy nor his 40-yard dash time of 4.83 seconds at the combine mattered to the Colts. They had him rated higher because of what they saw on film and in a personal workout. They also saw a player who could replace the franchise's career sacks leader, Dwight Freeney, and supplement the Colts' No. 2 sacks man, Robert Mathis, in the lineup this fall.
"He (Werner) is an edge setter. We always talk about those guys, first and foremost, being able to set the edge in the run game. He can certainly do that," coach Chuck Pagano said. "He's a dynamic pass rusher. He's a guy that obviously we knew we needed to address that (pass rush) and he's the highest player on the board at the time. We can do a lot of things with this guy."
"Coach Pagano, I just connected with him when he worked me out a couple of weeks ago and I can't wait to meet with them," Werner said after explaining his emotions by using the German word for excited. "I'm happy they picked me."
"We really look first and foremost at the player's 'play speed,'" Grigson said. "There have been a lot of players that have come off draft boards throughout the history of this league that didn't run great."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press