Ahead of the NFL draft, hundreds of scouting reports pop up all over the internet to help the general public get a feel for the college players eligible to enter the league. The ones for Michigan product Chase Winovich, for example, all praised his relentless nature and the high motor with which he plays. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, for example, famously wrote that he “plays the game like he has zombie blood pumping through his veins.”
Whether the contents of his veins are indeed of undead origins is a topic for another day (likely Halloween), but the point still stands: Winovich does not take plays off, something that likely led to the New England Patriots investing the 77th overall selection in this year’s draft in him. Not even four months into his tenure with the club, his high energy is already on display on a regular basis — just look at his first two preseason games.
Winovich saw considerable action in both contests so far and displayed the traits that made him a highly-touted prospect entering the draft. When asked about his habits of tirelessly pursuing each play following Saturday’s meeting with the Tennessee Titans, however, he struggled to explain the nature of his energetic approach to football. “It’s weird. I really don’t know why I’m built like that,” the 24-year-old told reporters.
“It might be a gift and a curse sometimes,” Winovich acknowledged. “When it’s extremely hot and they’re trying to run the ball away, and I see the guy... in my head, there’s a little part of me that’s like, ‘You know what, you’re probably not going to make this play, maybe you should save it for the next one when it comes to you.’ But, you’ll see me just sprinting and trying and trying to hit somebody or hit something.”
Even though Winovich said out that he would not know the reason behind him turning into the relentless player that he is, his own history might give an explanation. Following the game against Tennessee, during which he registered a combined eight quarterback pressures, he dove into it: “Ever since high school, my grandma’s been promising me that if I played hard and didn’t get hurt she would give me five dollars and a chocolate bar.”
“So, [Saturday] was just another day where I went out there and said, ‘You know what, I got to play hard. I need that five dollars and I need that candy,’” continued the Patriots’ rookie defensive lineman. “I joke, but at the end of the day I know that I have a lot of support and a lot of people that believe in me, and I feel like I represent the whole Pittsburgh area in a sense, and there’s a lot of pride that comes with it.”
This urge to represent his supporters well, has turned Winovich in one of the most exciting first-year players on the Patriots’ roster — an impactful defender who might see prominent snaps in the defensive edge rotation during the regular season if he can keep up his development. And as a result, it would not be a surprise to see him earn five dollar bills and chocolate bars on a weekly basis.