CINCINNATI — When the Bengals selected Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in April's NFL Draft, it was a foregone conclusion that Washington was going to take Ohio State star Chase Young at No. 2.
Ultimately, Washington took Young, but they were prepared to take a quarterback if the Bengals shocked the world and took the edge rusher.
No, they didn't want Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa. They wanted Burrow.
"We feel like championships are won by playing good defense. We felt pretty strongly about him [Young]. The only other option we felt was a viable one for us was [Joe] Burrow and obviously he was taken by Cincinnati," Washington head coach Ron Rivera said on Wednesday. "We think Joe is the full package. We really do. We think Chase is the full package. Depending on what Cincinnati did, that’s what we were going to do. The opposite. We didn’t think we would lose out either way. We really didn’t. We think both players are going to be great players and have great careers and we’re fired up that we have Chase."
Burrow and Young are both off to great starts.
The Bengals' rookie signal-caller is third in the NFL with 232 completions. He's thrown for 2,495 yards (9th) and is already changing the culture in Cincinnati.
At 2-6-1, the Bengals have already matched their win total from last season. Burrow is a big reason why they've had the lead entering the fourth quarter in six of their nine games.
"He’s going to be a solid player in this league for a very long time. In fact, he’ll be better than solid," Rivera said. "I like him. I think he’s a solid young man. I really enjoyed my opportunity to talk with him and listen to him talk about things. I think he’s a guy who’s going to continue to grow. I really do. He’s done nothing but be impressive the way he’s handling things, the way he’s gone about his business."
The Bengals did their due diligence with Young, the same way Washington looked at Burrow.
"Very impressed. [We were] Very impressed with the kid," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. "I wouldn’t call him a kid, I would call him a man. He’s a very impressive man."
Young was dominant in his first two NFL games, finishing with 2.5 sacks and eight tackles. Since then, teams have started double teaming the rookie. He has 3.5 sacks and 22 tackles this season.
The Bengals are hoping to have Jonah Williams and Bobby Hart back at left and right tackle, respectively, on Sunday against Washington.
They're going to have their hands full with the No. 2 pick.
Containing Young is the key for Cincinnati. If they can keep Washington's pass rush at bay, then Burrow should be able to put on a show in front of the team that took a long, hard look at him before the draft.
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