INDIANAPOLIS – Bjoern Werner knew what he was leaving behind.
Growing up in Germany, Werner took a calculated risk when as a high schooler he decided to chase aspirations unbeknownst to most in his homeland.
“I made a lot of sacrifices. I left my country, my family, my girlfriend, she’s my wife today, just to be here and pursue this dream,” Werner said at this year’s NFL Combine.
The move to the United States paid off for Werner.
After two years of playing high school football in Connecticut and three more at Florida State, Werner enters the 2013 NFL Draft as one of the top defensive line prospects.
“This is just another step right here, dreaming about this in Germany, watching the combine, and just being here right now and all my friends watching me right now is just amazing,” Werner said.
Werner can recall watching potential prospects, including Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams, compete at the 2006 combine.
Back then Werner’s football career was in its infant stages. He was introduced to the game in sixth grade, before the physical nature of the game escalated a few years later.
“When you turn 15, you automatically advance to tackle football, and it was just the most amazing feeling just hitting people. I just fell in the love with the game,” Werner said.
“My head coach, Joerg Hoffman, said, ‘You have a lot of potential. You should try to go to high school and go through the whole American recruiting process.’ With the goal to be here and get drafted, I never looked back. It was just (to) pursue that dream.”
While Werner’s eyes were wide when talking about his journey to the NFL, when popping in his tape it is easy to see why scouts are intrigued about this former soccer player.
During Werner’s three seasons in Tallahassee, he was a part of one of the nation’s top defenses and totaled 23.5 sacks from his defensive end position.
Werner leaves FSU as a consensus All-American, and his high motor helped the Seminoles lead the nation in allowing just 3.86 yards per play.
The attraction to the football field does not come naturally to most Europeans but for Werner, being the largest one on the field finally had its advantages.
“I got to (play) football and just hitting people, it’s such a man’s sport where if you line up against another guy (you see) who’s going to be the stronger guy,” said Werner. “It’s just an amazing game.”