The New England Patriots selected defensive end Chase Winovich out of Michigan with the 77th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Winovich was regarded as one of the top pass rushing prospects in the draft and is a perfect fit for his new team.
The 6’3, 255 pound Winovich is the perfect size for what the Patriots ask of their edge defenders and his athletic profile is actually a 98.2% match with former Patriots edge defender Shea McClellin.
Winovich runs a ridiculous 6.94s three cone drill (90th percentile), 4.59s 40-yard dash (94th percentile), and 4.11s 20-yard shuttle (95th percentile). He’s got plenty of speed to disrupt plays and he uses that to his advantage by never letting up until the whistle. While he might not have the same strength as other players, he uses his instincts to get an advantage on the opposing blockers.
If that doesn’t convince you, there are just three other players in NFL Combine history that weighed 250+ pounds, and ran a sub-4.6s 40-yard dash, sub-7.0s three cone, and sub-4.2s shuttle: LB Brian Urlacher (2000), DE DeMarcus Ware (2005), and EDGE Connor Barwin (2009). That’s ridiculous company.
Winovich has 34.5 tackles for loss over the past two seasons, which is tied for eighth-most in college football. He’s added 13.5 sacks over that same time frame, too, which ranks 28th. He gets the job done in the trenches.
According to Pro Football Focus, he has the second-most quarterback pressures and run stops over that time frame among Power 5 defensive linemen. His defensive grades are matched only by Joey Bosa, Myles Garrett, and Nick Bosa.
He’s a strong athlete that’s been productive on the field. That’s a great combo.
The McClellin comparison is great for Winovich because that is likely how the Patriots will use Winovich. Unless Winovich adds 15 extra pounds of weight, he’s not likely to have the same job that Trey Flowers had or that Michael Bennett and Deatrich Wise project to have. These heavier players need to have the ability to kick inside on certain pass rushing situations.
The Patriots still want their lighter edge defenders to have the flexibility to play both the even and odd defensive fronts. They just need to be able to put their hand in the dirt to rush the quarterback, have the flexibility to drop back into coverage, and play the 5-man front like Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower and McClellin. Winovich can do that.
The Patriots needed to think about the future of the defensive end position. Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise, and John Simon are roster locks and under contract for two more season, but Bennett is older, Wise is still not a complete player, and Simon showed a lot of promise last season, but shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Winovich rounds out that top four rotation nicely with a good complementary skill set. And now players like Keionta Davis, Derek Rivers, and Trent Harris will all have to prove they deserve a roster spot, even if they won’t be a part of the rotation.
Winovich is a perfect Patriots pass rusher that fills a long-term need and was selected with great value. What a pick!
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