As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Werner’s junior season was everything FSU could’ve hoped for and more. Thrust into the forefront after Brandon Jenkins‘s season-ending injury in the first week, Werner quickly embraced his role as the team’s premiere pass-rusher. And by the end of the year, he was arguably the ACC’s best pass-rusher as well. His 13 sacks were a conference-high, and tied for second in the country, while his 18 tackles-for-loss were second in the ACC. From game one this year, Werner was a force of nature and among the country’s real game-changing presences on the defensive line. What stands out just as much as the gaudy sack numbers, however, are the amount of pass deflections he managed. No one will make a comparison to the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt just yet, but Werner did manage to defend seven passes in 2012. As he prepares for a sure early selection in the NFL Draft this April, it’s likely that pro scouts are all eying that unique skill set as well and looking to employ him similarly to Watts.