Why Chase Young can actually be a serious DPOY candidate

Chase Young DPOY candidate in 2021?

The Washington Football Team opted to draft edge rusher Chase Young instead of a quarterback second overall in the 2020 draft. The pass rusher that looks like the Predator proved Washington’s decision to draft him right by winning Defensive Rookie of The Year in 2020. 

Headed into year two, sky is truly the limit for Young. The WFT edge player has garnered a year of pro competition, a stronger fit in the scheme, and the hunger to take that common second year pass rusher leap. 

I firmly believe that Young will not be the 2020 version of himself, or catch a case of the sophomore slump next season. In fact, I believe the WFT profile will take a giant step forward and place himself in the DPOY conversation when the next season has come to a close. Here is why great things lie ahead for the 6’5 255 freak defender.

  • Chase is ONLY 22 years old

It’s simple to state that a rookie player will improve as he garners more experience. Nonetheless, Young carries a much higher ceiling than most players heading into their second season. Historically speaking, pass rushers already tend to take a large step because they learn more techniques that weren’t instructed in college. An upgrade in pass rush technique combined with freakish athletic ability that pass rushers inhibit inevitably results in exponential growth of production.

J.J. Watt recorded 5.5 sacks in his rookie year, but his success skyrocketed to 20.5 sacks and a DPOY award in his second season. Former DPOY Khalil Mack went from four sacks as a rookie to unleashing a 15 sack count in his second year. Young’s rookie season doesn’t only compare well to these two profiles, but he was younger than these greats coming into the league. Young was 21 in his rookie season, whereas Mack was 23 as a rookie and Watt was 22 in his rookie season.

  • Competition in the division

The NFC East showcased not only the worst team outcomes in the league, but the worst pass protections in the league. In the 2021 offseason, minimal change was made by Washington’s division foes to enhance the OL, particularly at the left tackle position. 

The Giants LT is still anticipated to be Andrew Thomas, who was ranked as a bottom ten LT by PFF (Pro Football Focus) last season. In Dallas, the 30 year old Tyron Smith is coming off a season where he played two games. It’s also worth noting that the once clear top LT hasn’t played in more than 13 games in a season since 2015. The last place NFC East squad, also known as the Philadelphia Eagles, are very much rolling the dice at left tackle with soon to be first time starter Andre Dillard. 

Young had 4.5 of his 7.5 sacks against division opponents in 2020. He should be licking his chops heading into the 2021 divisional matchups, as the opponents will be unproven, young, or potentially sidelined with recurring injuries. 

  • Absence of Ryan Kerrigan

Ryan Kerrigan is an all time great Washington Football player. However, his time has come and gone in the team’s pass rushing corps. Kerrigan was the right mentor for Young, but his exit this offseason was due and it will allow more room for Young to see the field and stack up the stat sheet.

Kerrigan tallied 5.5 sacks last year, as he collected significant playing time during Young’s DROY season. The production lost by the ten year veteran DE can be replaced by Young and fellow pass rusher Montez Sweat. 

Young will no longer be seeing a third pass rusher eating a large chunk of his playing time, as he will be leaned on heavily entering his second year. More opportunities against divisional and NFL opponents are on the surface for the ascending pass rush talent. Expect Young’s progress to result in very elite success next football season. 

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