The New England Patriots certainly must be thrilled with what they’ve seen from their rookie class thus far this summer.
Undrafted rookie wideout Jakobi Meyers already seems to be a lock for the Patriots’ 53-man roster. Jarrett Stidham, meanwhile, very well could usurp Brian Hoyer as Tom Brady’s backup if he continues to play at a high level. New England’s punter battle ended up being no real battle at all, as the franchise opted to release longtime punter and Super Bowl LIII stud Ryan Allen in favor of fifth-rounder Jake Bailey.
But among all of the Patriots’ first-year players, NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling believes one has separated himself from the pack.
“With the receiving corps in flux, all eyes have been on first-round pick N’Keal HarryÂ and undrafted camp sensationÂ Jakobi Meyers. It’s time to concentrate on the third-round pick screaming off the edge on the other side of the ball,” Wesseling writes. “Former Michigan standout Chase WinovichÂ has been anÂ unblockable dervishÂ through two preseason outings, dominating overmatched backup tackles. In one second-quarter stretch last week, he single-handedly shut down aÂ TitansÂ offense trying to take a look at fancy new backup QBÂ Ryan Tannehill. When Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel was interviewed at halftime, I expected him to relay his top priority of the second half: building a moat in front of No. 50. You finally get Winovich blocked — often illegally — on defense, exhale for a minute, and he hunts down your returner in kick coverage. Twice. This was one of the best preseason performancesÂ I’ve ever seen. How did the other 31 teams let theÂ Super Bowl champions get their hands on this guy?”
Wesseling really can’t get enough of Winovich. The veteran NFL scribe earlier this week appeared on “The Rich Eisen Show” and gushed over the young defensive lineman, who’s shaping up to be an impact player in New England from Day 1. Given the Patriots’ lack of pass-rushing depth, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Bill Belichick turn to Winovich on third-down situations right from the get-go.
Winovich’s next test will be Thursday night when the Patriots host the Carolina Panthers in the always notable third game of the preseason.