FOXBORO, Mass. — Chase Winovich was born to play for the New England Patriots.
The 6-foot-2, 252-pound defensive end was selected by the Patriots 77th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Michigan. He could be next in line for the Rob Ninkovich/Mike Vrabel role in the Patriots’ defense with the versatility and athleticism to play defensive end or outside linebacker.
Winovich not only was extremely productive with the Wolverines, he also played with a high motor and tested well in the pre-draft process. Winovich ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash with a 6.94-second 3-cone drill and a 4.11-second short shuttle, all prototypical times for the Patriots.
Give the man No. 50 already.
He had five sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 34 hurries in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus. He ranked 25th in PFF’s pass-rush productivity metric and second in their run-stop percentage metric. Winovich finished 2018 with 34 defensive run stops on 288 run-defense snaps.
He had 8.5 sacks in 2017 and five in 2016.
Winovich was rated by PFF as one of the best run defenders in the draft. He also was one of the most balanced defensive ends in the draft.
Although Winovich is a third-round pick, he has starting potential as a rookie. The Patriots have Michael Bennett, John Simon, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise, Keionta Davis, Trent Harris and Ufomba Kamalu at defensive end. The starting role across the line from Bennett is up for grabs. Simon is a journeyman pass rusher, while Rivers, Wise, Kamalu and Davis all were healthy scratches at least once last season. Harris was on the Patriots’ practice squad as a rookie in 2018.
Winovich, given his prowess as a run-stuffer and pass-rusher, very well could grab that starting spot and turn into a three-down player for New England.
The Patriots lost starting defensive end Trey Flowers in free agency. Winovich isn’t as big as Flowers and might not have the versatility to rush inside, but he’s a balanced player the Patriots desperately needed in their front seven.
The Patriots selected wide receiver N’Keal Harry in the first round and defensive back Joejuan Williams in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.