Now that week 11 of the college football season is in the rearview, we’re one week closer to the Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine game, the NFL Scouting Combine and plenty of other offseason events for the 2019 NFL Draft.
As the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft approaches, we’ll get a good idea of who could go in the first round. Depending on how it all plays out, we should see Ed Oliver, Jonah Williams and DeAndre Baker’s names called on day one. That’s what I’m speculating, but these are three names that have already been discussed as locks for the first round.
They’re not the only ones, though. Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa and Greedy Williams have also been discussed as locks for the first round. As discussed on Cover 1 | The NFL Draft podcast earlier this week, there’s a hypothetical question to be asked for the quarterbacks of the 2019 NFL Draft. What happens if Justin Herbert stays? If the Oregon Duck returns to school, this quarterback class loses value and, as much as people want to deny it, Ryan Finley becomes the top guy. Also, if quarterbacks such as Daniel Jones from Duke, Brian Lewerke from Michigan State, and Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State stay in school for another year, then things will get interesting.
While the quarterback class begins to take shape and sort itself out, there are 32 teams on the clock for the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. When we get into the later half of the first round, the wheels begin to fall off. Teams take chances on players. They force their hand on potential second-round prospects. Even though we don’t have grades on these players yet, who are some players that have first-round potential for the 2019 NFL Draft?
Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan
Stop scratching your head. Chase Winovich is a better football player than Rashan Gary, and that shouldn’t be surprising. Well, maybe it should be surprising because technically, the more physically gifted player is Rashan Gary. Everyone should know that, but the results don’t lie. Winovich has been fantastic for the Wolverines during his tenure with the team.
Over the last two seasons, Winovich has compiled 112 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Do I need to go over Gary’s stats over his three seasons in Ann Arbor or are the Walmart Wolverines back down aisle five? I certainly hope so because I might be one of the few evaluators putting Winovich in the first round discussion. So, why do I think he has first round potential?
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 8, 2018
For starters, have you seen Winovich play during a game? His motor is fantastic and never shuts off. He’s an absolute workhorse. Despite being physically limited compared to players like Josh Allen, Jachai Polite, and Brian Burns, Winovich competes on every snap. He’s technically sound and has no issues developing a pass rush plan. One of my favorite things is watching him run-the-arc and just go full-tilt towards a quarterback. His hand usage is good enough for the next level, and he’s not limited with his counter move ability. It’s not as strong as others in this class, but he’ll manage just fine on Sunday.
Stopping the Run
On the play above, you’ll notice how well Winovich does stopping the read-option. He doesn’t knife hard inside and notices the tight end (Sokol, #81) block across the line of scrimmage. When he notices this, he stays home and fights inside the tight end. It’s also worth noting that the Wolverines’ linebacker (McCray #9) does a great job getting over top of the tight end and forcing the quarterback inside. Regardless, Winovich helps stretch this play out towards the sideline and forces the quarterback to second-guess keeping the ball.
Relentless Pass Rush
On the play below, we’ll pay attention to Chase Winovich rushing from the right defensive end position. When the ball is snapped, he displays good burst and then runs-the-arc against Jamarco Jones (LT #74). As the quarterback steps up into the pocket, Winovich continues his way back into the pocket and brings him down.
With every snap, Winovich displays relentless effort. Becoming more consistent with his hand usage will have to happen, but there’s no reason to believe that he can’t beat offensive linemen with effort alone.
When playing against a team like Air Force, you have to be so careful of anything and everything because of the types of blocks you’ll see from a team that runs the triple-option so well. In the Michigan game against Air Force, you’ll see plays where Winovich gets double teamed and turned away from the football. There’s a chance that happens on Sunday from time to time, but it shouldn’t be too concerning for an evaluator.
On the play above, Winovich starts outside on the running back when rushing the passer but then counters back inside. By doing so, he swipes the running back’s hands away, rips inside and then flattens to the quarterback. In the process, you’ll just see that effort I continue to talk about with him, but he also doesn’t get enough credit for his overall speed. Either way, it’s plays like these that will get him plenty of attention from scouts and NFL teams.
Listed at 6’3 and 255 pounds, Winovich has a similar frame to Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers. Yes, they also have the blonde flow, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Winovich checked into the Scouting Combine around the same as Clay Matthews did. Matthews checked in at 6’3 1/8 and 243 pounds and ended up being selected 26th overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 2009 NFL Draft.
When the 2019 NFL Draft rolls around, teams at the back end of the first round could certainly consider Winovich. He’s a fringe first rounder, in my opinion. He would fit a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who only have Bud Dupree through the 2019 season and could look to move on from him, despite taking him 22nd overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Another option would be the Kansas City Chiefs with Justin Houston being 30-years-old in January. There will be questions about what level he can play at as he gets older, but you’d have to think that the Chiefs will consider getting a younger pass rusher.
No matter the team, there’s a lot to like when you watch the tape of Chase Winovich. He’ll have a pass rushing role at the next level, and anything else he earns will be out of his pursuit and overall effort. He’s the type of player that NFL teams love. He provides versatility with his ability to put his hand in the dirt or stand up. If you’re looking for a workhorse for your defense, you don’t have to chase one down through free agency, you just have to consider drafting Chase Winovich before anyone else does.
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