There seems to be one prospect that has the majority of Steeler fans clamoring for the team to select him every year, leading up to the annual NFL Draft.
In 2015, it was UCLA defensive end Owa Odighizuwa that had many black and gold faithful dreaming about the possibility of the team taking him. In fact, one BTSC reader said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I’m going to bed, but not before I watch some highlights of Owa Odighizuwa.” Odighizuwa was selected in the third round by the Giants. He spent two seasons with New York, a cup of coffee with the Bills last year and is now a free agent. Much like me, an almost 47-year old who has unwillingly been out of the dating game for nearly two years, it’s likely time for Odighizuwa to get on with his life’s work (for him, it probably means utilizing his college education; for me, it means spending even more hours watching Netflix, Hulu and CBS All Access). Anyway, people were so in-love with Odighizuwa that when the always lacking in the secondary Steelers were linked to safety Landon Collins leading up to that year’s draft, another BTSC reader said (and I’m not paraphrasing), “If they draft him, I will smash my remote!” Collins was also selected by the Giants, one round ahead of Owa. In four years in New York, Collins played in three Pro Bowls, was named a First Team All-Pro in 2016 and just signed an $84 million free agent contract with the Redskins.
But I digress.
There have been other examples of Steeler fan draft crushes.
Baylor defensive tackle/nose tackle Andrew Billings was one in 2016. He was selected in the fourth round by the Bengals and has had an okay career—very big Dan McCullers like but nothing more.
Two years ago, it was Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes—okay, I’ll give you that one (although, with Ben Roethlisberger about to sign a new contract extension through his early 40’s, what would have been the point)?
That brings me to the point of this piece. Chase Winovich, Michigan outside linebacker/defensive end. Just about every mock draft involving the Steelers includes some fan typing (often in ALL CAPS): “THEY NEED TO DRAFT CHASE WINOVICH!!!!!”
I obviously get the appeal. For starters, Winovich is from Jefferson Hills, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh. He’s also intense, passionate and has a Kevin Greene-like motor. Speaking of which, there’s the long blond hair sticking out of his helmet that just makes you want to jump out of your seat when he does something intense and celebrates obnoxiously (only receivers get grief for that kind of celebrating).
I just watched the 4:09 highlight video linked in the previous paragraph, and as a yinzer, I’m now pretty darn fired up! I can just picture the banners, the memes, the Tweets, the Facebook comments, all of which will say the same thing after a big play by Winovich: “Chase is Winning, B**ch!!!!!!!!”
Let’s face it, Chase Winovich is straight out of Pittsburgh sports hero casting.
But, then, when you read what some experts have to say about him, well, it kind of gives you pause. For example, The Draft Network’s profile on Winovich talks about his lack of burst and explosiveness, not to mention a lack of lateral movement. Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like Jarvis Jones? And then there’s his lack of bend, which is something that has irritated many fans about Bud Dupree for years.
Don’t get me wrong, The Draft Network is mostly flattering in its evaluation of Winovich, praising his hand usage, run defense and, of course, passion—“Motor never quits.”
Many mock drafts have Winovich going in the second round, which makes sense considering most experts feel that he has what it takes to be a starter, albeit one who may never reach double-digits in sacks.
Wait a minute, never reach double-digits in sacks? Speaking of Bud Dupree.....
OK, as I’ve said many times over the years, I am no draft expert. Therefore, I want to learn from you, a Steeler fan who perhaps has more draft knowledge than me. What makes you so giddy about Chase Winovich? What tangibles and intangibles could he bring to Pittsburgh’s defense?
As a 250-plus pounder with 40 speed that’s a shade under 4.6, does he have what it takes to be a very good to elite pass-rusher at the professional level?
If the Steelers take him in the first round, would you be happy? How about the second or third round?
I want to learn all that I can about Steeler Nation’s latest draft crush.