In terms of role and eventual production, defensive lineman Chase Winovich, who the Patriots selected in the third round, will likely be asked to replace production and rush capacity lost when Trey Flowers left. In terms of personality, he could naturally replace some of the fun Rob Gronkowski brought to New England.
Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown loves players who play like their hair is on fire. Winovich has a lot of hair and a lot of fire and was a Brown favorite.
Originally a tight end who was buried on Michigan’s depth chart, Winovich rose to defense and thrived.
“They get a good player,” said Brown, a native of Spencer, who coached at UMass, UConn and Boston College before joining Jim Harbaugh in Michigan. “He’s really durable and hates going out. We played Purdue in 2017 and it was over 90 (degrees) at the time of the game. You couldn’t get it out of there. He’s one of those guys. He plays fair.
Brown thought Winovich, who turned 24 last week, could help the Patriots.
“They lost Trey Flowers and (Winovich) has an odd ability to rush the passer,” said Brown, who also compared him to TJ Watt. “He has a good touch and will move. He can turn the corner on you.
Brown said that because Winovich was only starting defense for two years, his skills and instincts were still sharpening.
“I think his advantage is still there. He was a truly full time starter for the past two years. He is therefore still working on the development of his toolbox and his pass-rush directory. He’s a truly accomplished racing defender, ”said Brown. “The pros are starting to evolve into the extended running game where the quarterback is involved. He is an excellent defender of the race. He really understands, being able to play the zone by reading the quarterback. He is getting even better. It will get fat. “
In addition to his production (69 tackles, 5 sacks in senior), Winovich has made a reputation for his long hair and his great personality. Brown didn’t go into specifics, but didn’t dispute either.
” He is crazy. I’ll leave him alone. He might have led the country in TFL dances, ”Brown said with a laugh. “He’s completely crazy, but he’s a great boy and it’s really fun to be with him. He loves that hair.
Follow MassLive sports columnist Matt Vautour on Twitter at @ MattVautour424.