A rotational edge rusher was on the New England Patriots’ wish list entering day two of the 2019 NFL draft, and the team found one in round three: with the 77th selection, the reigning world champions selected Michigan’s Chase Winovich — the third player taken by the team after wide receiver N’Keal Harry in round one and cornerback Joejuan Williams in round two.
In New England, Winovich will enter a defensive edge rotation currently headed by veteran Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise Jr. and John Simon. All three of them will impact the rookie’s development at this early stage in his career, as Winovich told reporters during a conference call shortly after getting drafted. “I’m trying to learn from my teammates whenever I get to New England,” the third-round pick said.
“That’s my first goal. I’m not trying to model my game after any one specific player, I’m just trying to get to New England, find out who the veterans are, and get under their wing and learn from their leadership and tutelage,” he continued. What should also help the Michigan product in this regard and to grow as a player in general is his willingness and ability to play multiple roles on the Patriots’ ever-shifting defensive front.
“I’ve always prided myself on being a football player, so wherever the coaches want to put me, ultimately,” Winovich answered when asked which position he sees himself playing at the next level. “If you look at my history, I’ve played a lot of different positions and that’s where the coaches are going to decide where I fit best, so that’s their choice not mine. I’m happy to play anywhere. I just want to get on the field and contribute and work hard.”
At Michigan, Winovich did just that: appearing in 41 games for the Wolverines over a four-year span, the 24-year-old registered 18.5 sacks playing primarily as a weak-side linebacker. But as he pointed out, his abilities extend beyond just one position — something that will likely also be asked of the rookie in New England. By the sounds of it, that’s just the way he wants i.
“I just never wanted to leave the field, and it’s no different to this day. I want to contribute in any way possible, but at the end of the day, that’s up to the coaches to decided where I’m going to fit best,” Winovich, who originally joined Michigan as a fullback/tight end hybrid, continued when speaking about his skill set. “I’m just going to go in there, work as hard as I possibly can and just work hard.”
“That’s what it comes down to. I’m not making any guarantees. I’m not promising where I’m going to play. I’m not the coach — that’s up to them.” No matter where he is ultimately put by the Patriots’ coaches, Winovich will bring one thing to the table: high energy. “I like to think of myself as kind of a junkyard dog, just tenacious, relentless effort and motor, just scrapping for every inch,” he said about his approach to the game.
“But at the same time, I like to think I’m slippery here — as they say in Pittsburgh, ‘slippy.’ I think I bring some versatility and I think my combine was an example of some of the speed that I have,” he continued. “When you factor all of that in together, I think that makes me a pretty interesting pick and prospect and football player in general. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to go out there, prove my worth to the other guys on the team, and ultimately to the rest of the world.”