For reasons largely out of his control, Chase Winovich was not a first-round pick.
Compared to most edge defenders, the Patriots draft pick is short at a shade under 6-foot-3 and also lacks length with 32 3/4-inch arms. The former Michigan defender also ranks in just the 26th percentile of NFL edge defenders at 256 pounds.
So, he fell to the third round. But he might wind up being one of the steals of the 2019 NFL Draft.
What Winovich lacks in length and bulk he makes up for in athleticism and projection. He ranked second among defensive end prospects in Pro Football Focus‘ run-stop percentage with 34 defensive run stops on 288 defensive run snaps. He ranked 25th in pass-rush productivity with five sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 34 hurries on 316 pass-rush snaps.
His 4.59-second 40-yard dash, 6.94-second three-cone drill and 4.11-second short shuttle drills all show up on tape. Watch how he bent around the edge and used pure speed to get around Penn State’s right tackle.
Offensive tackles had a hard time containing Winovich once he used a quick inside fake to slip to their outside shoulder.
The SMU offensive tackle barely got a hand on Winovich during this play:
Watch the bend and balance Winovich used to close to the Michigan State quarterback.
He employed a combination of hand-work and quickness to get inside and sack Penn State quarterback Chase McSorely.
Winovich has a strong punch that helped him disengage from blockers.
He tended to shock blockers with those quick hand strikes.
He utilized a combination of hand technique, bend, balance and closing speed for a sack against Notre Dame.
Despite being undersized and only bench-pressing 18 reps of 225 pounds, Winovich didn’t lack for power gripping and ripping Penn State’s right tackle to pick up a fumble.
He caused an interception on a quarterback hit with another grip and rip against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame game was a monstrous performance for Winovich, as evidenced by him beating an offensive tackle for an inside rush to force an incompletion.
Winovich was also a strong run defender at Michigan. He used his relentless motor on backside pursuit.
He had a tendency to make big plays in run defense all season. He destroyed Michigan State’s tight end for a run stuff.
Tight ends, in general, were no match for Winovich.
Winovich simply shrugged off Michigan State’s right tackle for a tackle for loss.
Despite questions about his size and strength, but he can be a tough guy for offensive linemen to budge.
Winovich still needs to be coached up and perhaps play a little more under control in the NFL.
He found himself behind the quarterback too many times.
That’s a no-go with the Patriots.
He’ll also need to set the edge against the run in the Patriots’ defense. That’s one area where his lack of length comes back to haunt him.
Winovich has physical limitations because of his lack of length, though he can hold his ground at the point of attack. We noticed he had delayed reactions on read options, lacking desired instincts. He’s not a bull rusher, and we very rarely saw him drop back in coverage.
The edge defender is not a perfect prospect, which is why he slipped to the third round. But as long as he can take coaching and play within the scheme of the Patriots’ defense, showing patience to contain on the edge rather than relying on that motor to constantly charge upfield, we believe he could be a Day 1 starter.
Thumbnail photo via Mike Carter/USA TODAY Sports Images