* The Washington Football Team's 2020 season was a memorable one filled with impactful performances. Over the next two weeks, NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux and Ryan Homler will take a look at 10 players who provided the biggest impact. Next up: Kamren Curl.
If any rookie defender on Washington was going to get attention in 2020, it was Chase Young. Rightfully so, as the defensive end won Defensive Rookie of the Year and was a major impact player for the organization on and off the field.
Young, however, wasn't the only first-year player in Washington to shine on that side of the ball. The other name was very under the radar, coming at the opposite end of the draft, but ended up being a steal for Washington.
That was safety Kamren Curl.
The 216th overall pick out of Arkansas didn't have much hype surrounding him entering the season. When it came to the safety position, all the attention was on Landon Collins and if he would deliver on his big contract in 2020. Maybe Kurl could be a depth piece, but the idea of him being an impactful starter seemed far-fetched.
That all changed after Collins went down with a season-ending injury in a Week 7 win over the Dallas Cowboys. From there one, Curl assumed a starting role for the final nine games of the regular season -- and he delivered.
In that stretch, Curl recorded three interceptions, two sacks and emerged as one of Washington's most consistent defenders. One of those interceptions was a crucial pick-6 against the San Francisco 49ers that helped seal a game in which the offense could get nothing going.
What made Curl special for the unit in 2020 was his ability to play well at all levels of the defense. He was solid in pass coverage and was capable of making the big play every now and then. Yet what really impressed many was his presence as a tackler. Not only were the sacks impressive, but Curl displayed that he was not afraid to go downhill and make the sure tackle before the offensive player had a chance to really do damage.
In the end, Curl's season wasn't just great in terms of what Washington had, but in the scope of the entire league. He finished the season as PFF's highest-graded rookie safety and joined Young on PFF's All-Rookie Team.
Selecting Curl in the draft wasn't seen as a major move for Washington. Maybe those in the draft room knew the upside that existed, but it would have been hard to predict the rookie safety starting a playoff game for the team in 2020. Yet when Collins went down, Curl emerged and took advantage of his opportunity.
Now, Washington has a steal of the draft and a player that will be a big part of the secondary moving forward.