There are two major attributes to look for when scouting SAM linebacker prospects. First, does the player have the length to keep tight ends and tackles at bay on the edge of the line of scrimmage? Winovich comes in at a wiry 6'4", making him a slender slab capable of putting on twenty to thirty pounds; he will need a year or two in the weight room, but he definitely has the height and arm length to play the position. Second, does he show enough athleticism to play sideline to sideline and contribute to the pass rush? Winovich isn't quite as explosive as someone like Jake Ryan just yet, but he is quicker than most prospects his size and should be able to develop pass rush moves down the line.
It's paramount that SAM linebackers play with consistent leverage and learn to keep blockers off the inside of their pads. Much like many other high school linebackers, Winovich doesn't deal with many blockers on film, often running past lineman or running through smaller, less gifted backs who have no chance of making a block on a future division I linebacker. Winovich isn't poor in this regard -- he actually makes contact and locks his arms out a few times on tape, and even showed a solid shed on a pass rush -- but learning to keep 250-pound tight ends and 6'5", 300-pound offensive tackles at a distance is a totally different beast. His instincts are solid, often cutting ball carriers off in the backfield or chasing them down from the backside, but he still needs to add muscle and learn to play with great leverage on every single down.
Overall, there isn't much of anything separating Winovich from someone like Kyle Berger, who receives more praise from scouting sites despite being a near mirror image of Winovich. Berger might be a touch more explosive, and he's also more familiar with the position he'll be playing in college, but the two are both wiry, explosive outside linebackers with above average ceilings.
This is where things get interesting. Winovich came onto the scene later than some of the other outside linebacker prospects in his class. Ohio State picked up Sam Hubbard and offered Winovich not long after, which means that Hubbard will most likely end up at the weak side defensive end spot. The Buckeyes picked up Kyler Berger some two days later, but they're still going hard after Winovich, who would all but ensure them a solid starter at the position for years to come.
Michigan is doing its best to combat the Buckeyes. Winovich visited Ann Arbor in April and again this past weekend, riding on scooters with Jake Ryan and hitting the links with Michigan commitments:
Michigan is definitely making up ground, and it might just be in the lead after this weekend. I personally still think the Buckeyes hold a slim lead, but Michigan is still very much in the picture.
This one is tough. Winovich has been high on the Buckeyes for quite some time now, but Michigan is putting the full press and making it hard to predict where he ends up.
I'll say Ohio State by default, although I really want to say Michigan. To hell with it: Winovich will end up in the maize and blue.