Chase Young has a swagger. A body that suggests world domination and a mind still willing to study a simple thing like hand placement.
But will Washington’s second overall pick lead a talented line to become one of the NFL’s top pass-rushing units? History says maybe.
Washington has drafted 12 players in the top nine picks since taking Desmond Howard fourth overall in 1992. Six players went on to great careers, though not necessarily in Washington. Offensive tackle Trent Williams (4 in 2010), safety LaRon Landry (6 in 2007), safety Sean Taylor (5 in 2004), linebacker LaVar Arrington (2 in 2000), offensive tackle Chris Samuels (3 in 2000) and cornerback Champ Bailey (7 in 1999) were great players. Yet, Samuels was the only one to play his entire career in Washington aside Taylor, who died during his fourth season.
Three players – guard Brandon Scherff (5 in 2015), cornerback Carlos Rogers (9 in 2005) and Michael Westbrook (4 in 1995) could be labeled solid contributors. Westbrook fell short of expectations, but made 277 catches and 25 touchdowns. Both Rogers and Westbrook didn’t finish in Washington.
Two players – Health Shuler (1994) and Howard – were total busts. That leaves Robert Griffin III (2 in 2012) to wonder if a great rookie season before injured could have led to a standout career. Still, the pick goes in the bust file, especially when giving up two more first-rounders to draft him.
Overall, Samuels was the only top nine pick to give Washington a great, lengthy career.
Young is the first defensive lineman to join the top nine club, though. He could be the best drafted by Washington since ends Charles Mann (3 in 1983) and Dexter Manley (5 in 1981.) The Ohio State rusher has the quickness and physicality to escape tackles and push through guards. Teammates have noticed him during summer practices.
“I’ve been in the league going on seven years now . . . so I’ve seen a lot of first rounders,” said linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. “I’ve seen a lot of highly-touted people coming in and he has a really good head on his shoulders and you can’t really ask for more from a guy like that who has the physical capabilities. He has the mental strain to keep pushing and to stay humble and keep working like he does.”
Said linebacker Ryan Anderson: “[Young’s] definitely as advertised. I’m excited for him and looking forward to playing with him.”
Young is shaking off a minor injury suffered in a drill when refusing to yield. His competitiveness drove him to continue despite in an awkward position to tweak his hip. Practicing to the point of pain shows the rookie’s competitiveness.
Will Washington fans will be rooting for Young come 2030. History says no. That either coaching changes, money or injury will make him a short-timer. But Young is a local native who will be tougher to lure away in future free agency so his chances of remaining are good.
It’s just the start of hopefully a long journey.
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Washington football team in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks