Detroit Lions 2019 Draft Profile: EDGE Rusher Chase Winovich
By Kellen Voss
As we here at SideLion Report continue to preview potential Detroit Lions‘ draft targets, today take a we look at Michigan linebacker Chase Winovich.
Pretty much any team can nail their first round pick in the draft, as even the perennially-incompetent Detroit Lions have nailed past first round picks, such as wide receiver Calvin Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford.
But one of the factors that separates potential playoff teams from potential dynasties is nailing draft picks in later rounds. A common trend in dynasties is to nail these later picks, especially those on Day 2.
Quality Hall of Fame defenders can be found in the second round, with defensive ends Howie Long and Michael Strahan and linebackers Jack Lambert and Mike Singletary being some notable second round picks who ended up in Canton.
With general manager Bob Quinn looking to build a Patriot-esque dynasty, nailing second picks is key. While he may not be a hall-of-fame defender like the legends previously mentioned, Michigan EDGE rusher Chase Winovich can make an instant impact on this young defense.
Winovich has shown resiliency from a young age, as he was one of the most highly-touted defenders in his class despite suffering a fractured skull and subdural hematoma after tripping on a trash bag on his front step before he even stepped foot on a high school football field.
Winovich went on to have a respectable career with the Michigan Wolverines, tallying 166 total tackles, 43.0 of which going for a loss, and 18.5 sacks. These statistics along with his leadership towards the end of his collegiate career helped Winovich earn second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2017, as well as earning third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press and first-team All-Big Ten notice in the 2018 season.
While his teammates in EDGE Rusher Rashean Gary and linebacker Devin Bush are more highly touted for their potential, it should be mentioned that Winovich actually put up the statistics, as he led the team with 17 tackles for loss in his senior season. His 109 pressures in his final two seasons ranks fourth in the NCAA, according to Pro Football Focus.
While those numbers are all well and good, Winovich’s draft stock was raised recently due to his impressive combine numbers, including a 4.59 second 40-yard-dash with a 10-second split of 1.57, which is just .01 seconds slower than former top-5 picks such as Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, Dante Fowler Jr., and Dion Jordan.
Perhaps the most impressive stat Winovich put up at the combine was his 20-yard-shuttle (4.11 sec) and 3-cone-drill (6.94 sec), which both place in 90th percentile of those respective categories among these years prospect. Those specific numbers are very encouraging when compared to other NFL legends, as The Ringer’s Robert Mays covered last week:
"“Nearly every 250-plus-pound player who’s run faster than 4.65 in the 40 with a sub-7.0 in the three-cone drill has produced in the NFL. That list includes Brian Urlacher, Justin Houston, DeMarcus Ware, and several other Pro Bowl–caliber players. And while there are some legitimate concerns about Winovich’s movement skills … he checks more than enough boxes athletically to produce in the pros.”"
Even though Winovich doesn’t possess the fast-twitch technique that first round EDGE rushers in this draft have, his excellent hand usage, high football IQ, and use of leverage allows him to rush the passer at a fairly efficient rate.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign that Winovich can contribute in the pros is the overall passion he plays, which can be seen clearly in this highlight package. That passion, will-to-win, and overall hype attitude is something any defense could use, especially a Lions defense that hasn’t seen that in recent years from Ansah.
EDGE rushers is arguably the top need on this Lions team and needs to be addressed in the first few rounds. But if Quinn doesn’t fall in love with any pass rushers in the first round, it may be smart to wait and snag Winovich in the second round and watch him produce as soon as he touches professional turf.