The Patriots will look very different in 2020, which could mean we’ll get some new Pro Bowlers this year.
It was an odd year for the New England Patriots all-around in 2019.
The team started out 8-0 but then finished 4-4. They lost in the first round of the playoffs — and at home — for the first time in a decade. Tom Brady played (presumably) his final snap in a New England uniform and threw a pick-six on his final play.
The Patriots’ representation in Pro Bowl nominations could also be seen as a microcosm for the way their season unfolded.
New England had just three Pro Bowlers: cornerback Stephon Gilmore, inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and special teams ace Matthew Slater. There were 11 other teams in the league that sent more players to Orlando, including five in the AFC (Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens).
Safe to say that’s gotta improve if the Pats want to rid themselves of last year’s stink. While it may seem a safe bet that stars like Gilmore and Hightower will once again contend for a nod, let’s take a look at the three players on New England’s roster who are most likely to earn their first Pro Bowl nomination this year.
3. Chase Winovich
Outside of perhaps punter Jake Bailey, no New England Patriots rookie made a greater impact in 2019 than defensive end Chase Winovich.
A third-round pick out of Michigan, Winovich got the majority of his playing time on special teams but still managed to make the most of his opportunities on defense when Bill Belichick put him on the field.
He finished fifth on the team in total sacks (5.5) and seventh in total tackles for loss (5.5). Winovich even managed to finish the season with more total tackles than veteran players like Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks, and Nate Ebner.
With Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Danny Shelton, Elandon Roberts, and other 2019 defenders now starring for new squads in 2020, the onus falls on Winovich to take on an even greater role this fall in his second professional season. “Wino” will most likely enter training camp and the preseason penciled in as the starting edge rusher opposite John Simon on defense.
Assuming Winovich does end up getting more snaps this season, it will be on him to increase his production, build up a gaudy sack total and successful pressure rate, and hopefully secure his first Pro Bowl nomination in the process.