Young’s semi-slow start to 2020 is not a reason for concern.
By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)
There were a lot of questions about the 2020 draft revolving during the offseason, but Chase Young’s draft stock was not one of them. The former Ohio State defensive end was regarded as one of the most bulletproof prospects we’ve ever seen at the position, and he was expected to immediately join the elite tier of defensive ends alongside fellow ex-Buckeyes Joey and Nick Bosa.
Young’s stats didn’t quite live up to his hype (just 7.5 sacks in 2020), but he was still a huge difference-maker on the field, and he is talented enough to join the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2021. His lack of huge numbers was also due to defenses keying on him, as he had the sixth-highest double-team rate out of any edge rusher in 2020, which is ridiculously high for a rookie. The emergence of other defensive line stars such as Montez Sweat should take some pressure of Young, and he’s likely to be a more polished player overall in year two.
At 6’5″, 265, Young is a big guy, but he’s extremely athletic for his size. Young is built primarily to be a sack machine, but he’s also great against the run, good enough to stifle even the best RBs. Everyone knew that Young was the pick for Washington at #2 in the 2020 draft, and people also knew that he was stepping into a great situation alongside other young pass rushers. Those pass rushers hadn’t fully unlocked their potential, but the hope was that with the arrival of an elite guy like Young, they’d flourish, and that’s exactly what happened.
As mentioned earlier, Young was someone who drew massive amounts of double-teams, which gave his fellow pass rushers plenty of room to operate. Montez Sweat was a primary beneficiary, as his nine sacks actually led the team, although other guys such as Ryan Kerrigan, Tim Settle, and Daron Payne also reaped benefits. Payne only had three sacks last year, but as mentioned, Young also is a force to be reckoned with against the running game, which helped Payne become more of a suffocating force on the inside.
Young played very well in the first two weeks of 2020, with 2.5 sacks, but over the next eight games, he only recorded one sack, while missing one of the eight due to injury. This wasn’t due as much to his quality of play, it was mainly just a cold spell of unluckiness (in terms of getting in a good sack situation), but even so, it had some people questioning his ability to be an elite NFL pass rusher. However, those questions went away during the rest of the season.
Over the last six games of the season, Young moved closer to being a stat-sheet dominator, with four sacks, eight QB hits, two forced fumbles, and a defensive TD. Those still aren’t Joey/Nick Bosa numbers, but the talent on Washington’s defensive line means that there won’t necessarily be a huge sack guy on there, particularly because they have multiple players who are great at getting to the QB. However, this doesn’t mean Young can’t rack up sacks, as he proved he has the potential to become elite on the stat sheet late last season.
Overall, Chase Young is an all-around elite player, and his high quality of play last year proved that the scouts were right when labeling him a generational talent. Yes, his stats weren’t amazing, but the narrative that “talent always wins out” has lots of merit, and it was clear that Young got better both on the stat sheet and in the games as the season went on. Young’s college tape blew away evaluators for a reason, and he showed he’s capable of being great in the NFL in his rookie year. Therefore, a second-year jump is to be expected, and if he lives up to the hype, he has a legitimate shot at being the next Defensive Player of the Year.