Nearly 30 minutes elapsed before the NFL announced the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft—quarterback Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals, a pick that had essentially been predetermined for months—during last night’s broadcast. Fans, viewers, and even NFL players like quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. started to get impatient.
But when it was Ron Rivera and the Washington football team’s turn to make the second overall selection, they wasted no time, taking what felt like only seconds to put in their pick for pass rusher Chase Young. The Prince George’s County native and DeMatha Catholic High School alum received the call from Rivera shortly before it was announced on the TV, and team owner Dan Snyder called to congratulate him a couple draft picks later.
Rivera had the guy he wanted.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to get him,” Rivera told reporters in a video conference call after the first round of the NFL Draft wrapped up hours later. “I think there’s a couple other guys that were very good at their positions, but I think for what we would love to do going forward, for us, I most certainly do believe he’s the best player.”
Young played college football at the Ohio State University and is the second consecutive Buckeyes player Washington drafted in the first round. The team selected Haskins, who played at Bullis School in Potomac, with the 15th overall pick last year and the former teammates will soon be reunited in the NFL.
“Welcome home brotha. Let’s work #HTTR,” Haskins tweeted.
Long expected to be the No. 2 overall pick, Young told reporters in a conference call that he “never really knew for sure” and tried to ignore the projections.
“You never know if those are going to come true,” he said. “I muted out everything and just worked and didn’t really pay attention too much to the mock drafts.”
Considered a can’t-miss defensive prospect, Young compiled 98 tackles and 30.5 sacks in his three years at Ohio State. Last season, he had 16.5 sacks and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the ninth defensive player with that distinction since 1982.
“I believe we’ve taken a guy that will impact not just his position group, not just the linebackers, not just the [defensive backs], but I think the entire football team,” Rivera said, noting that he felt the same way when his Carolina Panthers team drafted quarterback Cam Newton with the first overall pick in 2011. “That’s the idea, and that’s why we did what we did.”
After Ohio State lost to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals last December, Young said he knew his name would be called early in the draft.
“It was something I always had in my heart, something I always wanted to do,” he said from his family’s home in Maryland. “I feel like it was definitely when I finished my season that I knew. And then I thought I could be a top pick in this draft. I feel like I’m the best player in this draft. It was after I put it on film because I know at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters is how you play football. So you know, I was just real precise and real technical in the things I did in the game to try to be the best player that I could be.”
Young will get to start his NFL career at a stadium only seven miles away from where he competed in high school. On Thursday night, a group of friends gathered outside his family’s home in the chilly rain to congratulate him.
“I don’t really call it the pressure; I just call it the motivation,” he said of playing for his hometown NFL team. “I feel like everything just happens in the moment. It just gives me a lot of motivation. I want to keep my best foot forward and keep moving.”
Photo by C Watts on Flickr, used under the Creative Commons BY 2.0 license.