- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2020

Whenever the Washington Redskins were brought up at the NFL scouting combine, Chase Young tried not to get ahead of himself.

Playing for his hometown team would mean a lot, Young said, but until the selection was actually made, the Ohio State pass rusher and Maryland native said he wasn’t focused on which team could draft him.

But from the moment the Redskins secured the No. 2 pick with a 3-13 record, it seemed like fate had determined that Young would be wearing burgundy and gold next season.

On Thursday night, the Redskins made it official, drafting Young second overall in the first round.

Washington came away with a player hailed as the best prospect in the draft and a potential cornerstone for new coach Ron Rivera as he looks to build the Redskins into a winner.

In Young, the Redskins get a player who wrecks opposing offensive lines with explosive speed, crafty hands and impeccable timing. The 21-year-old led the nation in sacks with 16½.

“He’s a guy who can impact our football team,” Rivera said on the Redskins‘ in-house draft show. “Not just the defense. The football team.”

His dominance at the collegiate level created a high level of anticipation for when Young finally declared he was leaving to turn pro.

“He’s the best player in this draft class,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said in February.

“Two words: Chase Young,” said Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was Young’s teammate at Ohio State. “That’s all I got to say.”

Young only fell to the second pick because in a quarterback-driven league, the Cincinnati Bengals went with LSU’s Joe Burrow at No. 1.

The Bengals’ decision was Washington’s gain. The Redskins‘ defense needs the help after the unit fell way short of rosy preseason expectations, finishing 24th in defensive DVOA (efficiency). Washington’s biggest problem was it couldn’t get off the field, as opposite offenses converted 48.9% of the time on third down — the worst percentage in the league since 2011.

Young figures to help in that regard, creating pressure to force quarterbacks into making quicker, less accurate throws. He joins a talented defensive line featuring Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne.

The Redskins opted not to trade the No. 2 pick or use it on another position. In the months-long lead up to the draft, experts and fans debated whether the Redskins should have traded down in exchange for extra picks, given the team’s long list of needs on the roster.

On Wednesday, Rivera told The Washington Times that teams had called to make offers for Washington’s selection, but added, “we’re just listening.”

Some wondered whether the Redskins would take a quarterback at No. 2, particularly Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Washington took Haskins in the first round last year, but Rivera made headlines at the combine when he said the Redskins would explore drafting the position.

Washington also met with Burrow and Tagovailoa at the combine.

But the Redskins decided to not pursue those paths and went with the player seen as the favorite for months.

Before he became a star at Ohio State, Young grew up in Cheltenham, Maryland, and later attended DeMatha High School in Hyattsville. Young said he didn’t root for the Redskins, but instead cheered for individual players. His favorites were Sean Taylor and Clinton Portis.

“Playing in front of my hometown people, it’d definitely be a blessing,” Young said at the combine.

On Thursday, as the picks came in, cameras showed a grinning Young on the phone from his home. Soon, when the pick was finally announced, six of Young’s family and friends in the room with him erupted in applause and the 21-year-old reached to put on a hat featuring the Redskins‘ logo.

For Young, it’s a blessing come true.

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