- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Chase Young has yet to play a snap in the NFL, but the rookie pass rusher said he understands the expectations that come with being taken No. 2 overall. At 22, the Redskins defensive end has heard the talk from experts who called him the best player in the draft.

He tries to ignore it.

It’s much too soon for anyone to hand him a gold jacket, says Young, making a sly reference to the distinctive coat worn by Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees.

First, Young just wants to have a successful rookie season.

Which prompts the question: What exactly does that mean?



Reaching double-digit sacks, regardless of experience, is a tough task, but it’s often used as a measuring stick for above-average pass rushers. Just 18 players did it last season, down from 22 in 2018.

Since the NFL started tracking sacks in 1982, only 35 rookies have earned at least 10 sacks in a season, according to Pro Football Reference. Of that group, just seven were from the last decade. For reference, in the 2010s, 166 defensive players were taken in the first round — 41 of which were a top 10 pick.

Over the years, a number of high-profile rookies missed that sack mark, including Pro Bowl-caliber players. Last year’s second overall pick, 49ers pass rusher Nick Bosa, fell just short with 9½, while Myles Garrett, Cleveland’s first overall pick in 2017, racked up just seven sacks his rookie year.

But it’s not impossible. Denver’s Von Miller, a player Young said he loves to study, finished with 11 in 2011. From that same year, former 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith even approached the all-time rookie record with 14, just missing former Titans defensive end Jevon Kerse’s mark (14½).

Sacks, though, aren’t everything — and Young will be the first one to admit it. Throughout the draft process, the Maryland native appeared annoyed whenever it was brought up that he went the final three games at Ohio State without one.

Young pointed out that he made an impact by pressuring the quarterback and making a difference against the run.

“Where you get your money is, they say, per se, is sacks,” Young said last week. “That’s the flashiness of the defensive lineman. So, I feel like those sacks maybe overshadow what I do in the run game. But I feel like those people that know ball for real, when you go back and just watch my film of my run game, I feel like they know what I do.”

For the Redskins, Young will be judged on the overall impact he can create for the defense. Other prolific pass-rushers have a track record of lifting their units, something Washington desperately needs. Denver, for example, went from 30th to 18th in defensive DVOA (efficiency) in Miller’s first year, while Cleveland went from 30th to 16th after drafting Garrett.

Redskins defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio told the team’s Larry Michael that Young has the “best toolbox” of any player he’s ever scouted out of college.

“I haven’t seen a guy come out with that many tools,” Del Rio said. “I’ve seen talented players come out, but not with a complete toolbox like he has.”

Many expect Young’s skill set to translate. Oddsmakers have him the overwhelming favorite to win defensive rookie of the year, with two books listing him at 5-to-1. The oddsmakers also set Young’s over/under for sacks at 8½.

The Redskins, meanwhile, haven’t had a rookie reach at least 8½ sacks since Brian Orakpo had 11 in 2009.

“I try to mute out the negativity, I try to mute out the positivity, and just focus on football and focus on the smaller things like nutrition, taking care of my body,” Young said. “Just focus on everything that got me here now. … Hopefully my NFL career will be pretty good, just trying to do what I do.”

 

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