Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Tom Kuebel posted this article on their website yesterday:
But as they say; hindsight is 20-20.
Trevor Sikkema of The Draft Network mostly echoed public sentiment saying “there isn’t really much to complain about” with the Cardinals selections, but he did offer one alternative for the Cardinals third round choice of Boston College defensive end Zach Allen.
Sikkema suggested that Arizona should have gone with Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich.
Winovich is a bit more slippery, can rush with speed better and has a better eye for gap penetration. Allen will be fine for the Cardinals, I think, but I don’t think he was their best choice there, whether at the EDGE position or elsewhere.
Sikkema went on to say that he didn’t believe Allen had any overwhelming tools but that he does a bunch of different things well.
Allen projects as a second string edge rusher in the Cardinals new 3-4 alignment behind Chandler Jones on the depth chart.”
This is a very interesting argument.
The Cardinals seemed to be trusting the PFF analytics more this year and Trevor Sikkema likely saw that PFF had a higher grade on Winovich than Allen. If fact, Winovich was PFF’s 4th highest rated EDGE player (behind #1 Nick Bosa, #2 Josh Allen and #3 Brian Burns) while Allen was their 6th highest rated EDGE player just below #5 Clelin Ferrell and ahead of #7 Montez Sweat, #8 Rashan Gary, #9 Anthony Nelson and #10 L.J. Collier.
When the draft came---there were a number of EDGE surprises:
7. J. Allen---JAX
65. Z. Allen---ARZ
6 EDGE players taken in the 1st round.
Because the 2nd round was so heavy in DBs and WRs, only one edge player was selected and that was TCU’s Ben Banogu, by the Colts.
So---why did the Cardinals pick Zach Allen over Jachai Polite and Chase Winovich? And why did Winovich slide to #77 as 10th EDGE player taken in the draft?
As Sikkema alluded, Zach Allen and Chase Winovich have very different body types. Allen is thick and powerful, while Winovich is wiry and fast.
Make no mistake about it, however, what both players have in common is non-stop motors and high volume tackling and QB pressure production:
Very similar career college stats:
Winovich: 166 tackles (96 solo), 43 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks.
Allen: 199 tackles (93 solo), 40.5 tackles for loss, 16.6 sacks.
The difference for the Cardinals was the inside-outside versatility that Allen brings to the 34 defense. In a way, drafting Allen was a 2 for 1 move, because they were able to acquire a potential starter at 34 DE who can rush from the edge or from the DT position in the nickel.
With Winovich, he would have been a 2 for 1 as a 34 OLB and nickel DE.
But, the Cardinals had a greater need at 34 DE.
What’s most surprising is that Winovich slid to #77.
There may have been a red flag or two that no one but the teams know about. But to see combo OLB/DE EDGE types like Ben Banogu and Jachai Polite (conduct red flags) go ahead of Winovich by 18 and 9 picks respectively, that seems odd.
When i watched the 2017 Ohio St. vs. Michigan game, Chase Winovich’s motor and all-out aggressiveness jumped out at me more than Nick Bosa’s.
To be honest, if the Cardinals had drafted Winovich, it would have felt like such a good consolation prize for missing out on Nick Bosa.
However, I believe that Zach Allen could have a more productive NFL career than Bosa or Winovich, especially because he was drafted by a 34 team that can move him around and maximize his versatility.
Tom Kuebel ended his article by stating: “Allen projects as a second string edge rusher in the Cardinals new 3-4 alignment behind Chandler Jones on the depth chart.”
If Trevor Sikkema (Draft Analyst) thinks as Kuebel does that Allen is a 2nd string 34 edge rusher behind Chandler Jones then no wonder why he thinks Chase Winovich would have been a better fit for that role.
But, as we know, Zach Allen isn’t 2nd string to 34 OLB Chandler Jones. Zach Allen is in the mix with Rodney Gunter and Darius Philon to start at 34 DE.
And there could times in the nickel where Jones is rushing from the edge with Allen rushing beside him from the interior. That could be a powerful “loop” stunt (tackle/end/x = “tex” stunt) combination! And there could be times when Zach Allen and Chandler Jones are rushing from opposite edges in the nickel.
That’s the point of Zach Allen---it’s his J.J. Watt type versatility.
Plus, recently, Vance Joseph has been raving about LB Dennis Gardeck, who physically and stylistically is very similar to---you guessed it---Chase Winovich.
Pro Day/Combine numbers:
Gardeck: 4.57 40, 31 reps @ 225, 36.5: VJ, 126” BJ, 7.35 3C
Winovich: 4.59 40, 18 reps @ 225, 30.5: VJ, 116” BJ, 6.94 3C
What these number suggest---Winovich is a tad quicker, while Gardeck is just as fast, but more powerful and explosive.
Winovich has a 3” height advantage, but Gardeck more than compensates for that by having a 6” higher vertical jump.
Gardeck has to prove that he can produce at the NFL level. He certainly did on STs last year. Now he gets his chance to win valuable playing time on the defense.
Winovich seems like a nifty fit in New England in the Rob Ninkovich role, that is if his slide to #77 was unwarranted and a mistake by numerous edge needy teams