by Woodland Crisfield
The addition of pass rusher Chase Young improved Washington’s defense in many ways. (Photo: Getty.)
When the Washington Football Team selected former Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young with the 2nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, many fans believed that the preceding 3-13 season was not in vain. Many believed that the team was finally getting a true impact player that struck fear into opponents.
Former Washington Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith praised Young going into draft day: "He checks all the boxes," Smith said. "I was touching base with [Ohio State] coach [Urban] Meyer last night. He was raving about the kid. He's a perfectionist, a self-starter. All the things you look for in a player, he's got, and he's wired the right way. That part made me more confident."
Young concluded his career in Columbus with 30.5 sacks, 40.5 tackles for loss, and 98 total tackles while finishing fourth in Heisman voting during his junior year. Add on top of the fact that he’s a native of Cheltenham Maryland who grew up rooting for the team known then asWashington Redskins and suffice it to say, the expectations from fans were sky high.
"I'm preparing the hardest I can to make sure I can have a pretty big impact," Young said. "Expectations, I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about being the player I can be."
Washington’s need for an elite defensive player has been evident as their last first team All-Pro defensive player was linebacker Wilbur Marshall in 1992. Pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan was the last Washington defender to make the Pro bowl back in 2013. And their last All-Pro player was punter Matt Turk in 1996.
With Washington transitioning to a 4-3 defensive style under new head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the addition of Young has completed a defensive line of first rounders with Montez Sweat starting on the opposite side of Young.
Young finished his rookie season in Washington with 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 44 total tackles, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and four pass breakups in 15 games.
His best performance would come in the team’s 23-15 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in week 14. Young recorded six tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits, two passes defended, and a forced fumble that he recovered for a 57-yard touchdown.
For his efforts, Young was awarded the 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association, in addition to being named to the 2020 All-NFC team, the only rookie on this all-conference team.
Washington head coach Ron Rivera felt that Young was deserving of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, telling NBC Sports Washington: “To me he is absolutely [deserving]. . .This kid brings that same type of energy that is [...] infectious and that [his] teammates follow; his personality reminds me a lot of Luke [Kuechly], in the respect that it’s really about the way the defensive unit plays as a group as opposed to just the way he is.”
By all accounts Washington has indeed landed the best player in the 2020 NFL draft, with his domineering pass rushing ability, and infectious enthusiasm for the game of football. Washington fans can expect Chase Young to remain a staple of the Washington defense for seasons to come.