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Grading the Chase Winovich selection and how he fits in the Patriots defense in the immediate and long term

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Athletic limitations makes him a hand in the dirt rusher instead of a standup edge rusher, but comes with a junkyard type mentality on the DL.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Florida vs Michigan Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots had a need to address their pass rush and defensive line on Day 2 and they did not disappoint as they added a solid edge rusher. After some wheeling and dealing, the Patriots finally picked again at 77 and selected Michigan edge rusher Chase Winovich.

Strengths:

  • Sets a hard edge in the run game
  • Very coachable player
  • Multiple pass rush moves
  • Plays with a good sense of urgency
  • Solid in regards to hand usage
  • Made more plays than 12th overall pick Rashan Gary last three years

Weaknesses:

  • Doesn’t move exceptionally well in space, more of a hand in the dirt guy
  • At times will be out of control
  • Needs to bulk up to 260+ if playing defensive end

Rookie Year Projection

Winovich can contribute right away due to ability to produce in run defense and moderate upside as a rusher. I don’t think he knocks off Deatrich Wise Jr. from the #2 edge rusher role, but he could challenge John Simon, my comp for Winovich, for the #3 role as a rookie. As I mentioned in the weaknesses, Winovich profiles more as a defensive end than an outside linebacker and likely fell a bit in Round 3 due to the lack of a 3-4 fit.

Long Term Projection

Winovich is likely a rotational edge rusher who is #2 or #3 on any team’s depth chart on a year to year basis due to athletic limitations as a rusher. Winovich is one of those players who will do the gruntwork on defense and set up other players on stunts, which I’d like to see the Patriots continue to employ like they did in the postseason. He’s more valuable on first and second down as an edge defender against the run with moderate pass rush upside if New England can get him to play more under control. Winovich is a very coachable player who has a knack for understanding the moving parts in the scheme and what his role in that scheme is so I think this will correct itself quickly.

How Many Downs Can He Impact: 3, potentially 4 if the Patriots can improve his pass rush technique

I expect him to see some time on different ST units: field goal, FG block, punt coverage, and punt return units.

Pick Grade: B

I like the fit, although I think they could have afforded to go for more upside with the pick. Winovich is a high character, smart football player and those type of players thrive in New England. There is some potential ST impact available plus perhaps more upside as a rusher when the Patriots fix up his hands and feet in his technique. Athletic limitations makes Winovich more of a hand in the dirt rusher than a standup edge rusher who is capable of dropping like Kyle Van Noy. Trey Flowers had the same limitations coming out of college and tested poorer at the combine, but would go on to be one of the best defenders for the Patriots the last three seasons.