Over the last couple of months, as Washington sits with the #2 overall pick, it has become increasingly clear that Ron Rivera and his squad have their eyes on Ohio State phenom Chase Young. While there is a general excitement for all the news about Chase Young being a “generational talent,” let’s take a more in-depth look to see if the hype is real.
This past year, Young finished off with 16.5 sacks and was a contender for the Heisman trophy. He was clearly the best defensive player in college football, but why exactly is he so good?
To put it simply, Young is the pinnacle athlete for a defensive edge prospect. At roughly 6’5 265lb., he not only is a large human being, but he has all the footwork and speed to have a better size/size ratio than 99% of the other players on the field. Matched with his elite bend around the corner, Young can stay tight to the pocket and not get washed downfield while maximizing acceleration on his rush.
Paired with his quick burst off of the line, Young has a very impressive ability to quickly engage blockers and use his finesse to get to the quarterback in record time. His flexibility and bend give him a huge upper hand when it comes to stiff and less coordinated offensive linemen. He is so fluid out of his stance that, when paired with rapid acceleration, leaves offenses only a couple of seconds before Young is a threat to have his hands on the quarterback.
Elite Pass Rush
Quarterback and offensive coordinators generally plan to have 2.7-3 seconds from the snap to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. With Young’s phenomenal hands and technique, that timing is severely cut down. This results in offenses needing to completely change up their game plan to accommodate such a quick pocket collapse, often resulting in double teams, screens, and zone reads. All of these pose other gaps in an offense which can be exploited by Young’s teammates and coaching staff.
Simply put, quarterbacks and coaches can’t go a single snap without seeing where Young is on the field.
One of the most impressive things about Young and why he is so attractive to every NFL defensive mind: he can do anything you need. The fact he can play a 4-3 or 3-4, cover, pass rush, and create mismatches across the board makes Young a potentially generational talent.
Young was so dominant at the college level that he often demanded a double team for most snaps. This completely shifted the whole offensive line’s blocking scheme and gave his teammates more opportunities to get in the backfield. If this can continue at the NFL level — and given the talented Washington defensive line — offensive coordinators could have their hands tied as far as what plays to call and where to send extra blockers. Washington could move Young all around the field and completely alter the offense’s strategy every down.
Are There Any Concerns?
Leverage and consistent pad level could be a worry for Young. While it seems the league is moving toward a more slim and structured frame with its edge rushers, large and long tackles could stand a chance to slow down Young. He will also have to build a newfound sense of discipline, bite on fewer play fakes, and understand that NFL backfields can be much more deceptive than your average BIG10 duo.
This could overall hurt him more in the run stop rather than pass rush. Young has a clear ability to get after the quarterback, but facing a consistent run game would require him to stay focused on pad level, leverage, and dealing with bulldozing linemen.
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Overall, such concerns really are just nitpicking what is essentially a near-perfect player. Washington has fumbled so many early-round picks over the last several years that to pass up such an opportunity to have a generational talent would be a cruel joke to its fanbase.
Trust the hype; the predator is going to be one of the best NFL players of the new decade.