Michigan had two players – Devin Bush Jr. and Rashan Gary – selected in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, but although many analysts thought the Wolverines could have two second-round picks, their names were not called.
Defensive end Chase Winovich and cornerback David Long were thought to be sure second-round picks by many draft analysts but had to continue waiting into the third round where they both were taken early.
Winovich was selected by the New England Patriots with the 77th pick and Long is heading home to Los Angeles to play for the Rams, which made him the 79th overall pick. The NFL Draft concludes Saturday. Bush was the No. 10 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Gary went No. 12 to Green Bay.
Earlier this week, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper projected Winovich and Long, who both had strong NFL Combine showings, in the second round. Winovich returned to Michigan for his final year of eligibility after considering an early jump to the NFL, and with that additional year in college football, he turned heads while earning the team’s Most Valuable Player distinction.
Long left the Wolverines with a season of eligibility remaining. He had one interception and eight pass breakups last season. He had six pass breakups in 2017 and three interceptions his final two seasons as a starter.
Winovich had 69 tackles, including 17 for loss and five sacks last fall. He was a colorful personality and not just because of his long blond hair. At the NFL Combine, Winovich said he wanted to convince teams there was more to him than just being a high-motor player.
“Teams ask me that question a little bit,” Winovich said at the combine about his nonstop energy. “It’s a dangerous game in a small way, because you don’t want to get pigeon-holed as a try-hard white guy. At the end of the day, I think there’s more to my game than that. There’s nothing wrong with that in a sense, as well. My whole goal is to get into an NFL organization, add more value and prove my worth every single day.”
He had an impressive showing at the combine, finishing first in the 20-yard shuttle among defensive linemen and his 4.59 40-yard dash placed him fourth among defensive lineman, just a tick behind Michigan defensive line teammate Rashan Gary’s 4.58.
Winovich also was third in the three-cone drill (6.94) and tied for third with Bosa in the 10-yard splits (1.55). His showing at the combine, caused NFL Draft analysts to change their projections for Winovich, and he began showing up in Round 2.
Winovich was asked by Patriots beat writers Friday night to describe his play.
“I like to think of myself as a junkyard dog,” Winovich told reporters. “Tenacious.”
Long has always been low-key when it comes to attention, so it came as no surprise that he didn’t crave media coverage during his pre-draft preparations.
He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, fastest of his position, at the combine.
After Michigan’s Pro Day, Long said he was letting his agent handle everything and just wanted to know when and where he had to be to work out or interview with a team.
“Just trying to give off the best impression I can, and it’ll happen how it’s supposed to happen,” Long said last month. “The cards will fall how they will. I don’t need anybody patting me on the back or saying anything, because regardless, I still have to go out there and play. I really honestly don’t know where I’m gonna go. I haven’t really asked about it.”
He went home to Los Angeles and will have an opportunity to play with veteran All-Pro cornerbacks Aqip Talib and Marcus Peters.
“(There’s) a lot of experience to be able to pick up from those guys and just do whatever they’ve been doing to stay in the league,” Long told the Rams website. “A lot of those guys have successful careers, Aqib Talib has played a really long time, lengthy career, so he knows what it takes. And Marcus Peters and (cornerback) Nickell Robey-Coleman, those guys have made plays at that level.”
Michigan players who will wait for calls from NFL teams on Saturday include running back Karan Higdon is projected a fifth-round pick and tight end Zach Gentry and safety Tyree Kinnel could be late-rounders or free agents.