When it became the Redskins turn to pick during the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, their choice was easy. Washington selected pass rusher Chase Young second overall, the consensus best overall prospect and considered a generational talent by many draft experts.
While Young was the clear choice, defensive line was not necessarily a position of need for the Redskins and was arguably already Washington's strongest position group entering the draft.
Ron Rivera was asked about the selection of Young on Tuesday, and the head coach explained why he felt so strongly about the pick.
"We really like who he is as a young man," Rivera told Mike Tirico on Lunch Talk Live. "We got to spend some time with him prior to the shutdown, so we had a good feel for him as a person. Obviously, his tape was tremendous."
Young would have been a welcome addition to any team. In Washington, he'll join a unit that is loaded with four other former first-round picks and a group that has the potential to be one of the league's best in 2020.
The Redskins used their top selections in the 2017 and 2018 drafts on former Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, respectively, and traded back into the first round a year ago to nab Mississippi State pass rusher Montez Sweat. Ryan Kerrigan, who the Redskins selected 16th overall all the way back in 2011, remains in the fold as well.
Despite these first-round investments, the Redskins best defensive lineman from a year ago was a former fifth-round pick. That would be Matt Ioannidis, who was named a Pro Bowl alternate last year. His 8.5 sacks were both a team- and career-high, and his 16 quarterback hits led the team, too. Only Allen (68) had more total tackles along the defensive line, and it barely edged out Ioannidis' total (64).
Rivera hopes the number of investments Washington has made into this unit will allow this group to play together for a long time.
"Just knowing the kind of impact [Young is] going to have on our defense, guys like that, we've got a couple of them," Rivera said. "We've got a couple of quality, young defensive players that are coming into their own right about now. That's one of the pluses too, if you look at the young guys up front that are playing, we have a group of guys that can play together for a number of years."
Over the past two seasons, Allen has turned into one of the Redskins' best defensive players and was even named a team captain in 2019. The Redskins picked up his fifth-year option this offseason, meaning he's under contract for at least two more years. Payne has proven himself as a force in the middle, and Sweat had a promising conclusion to his rookie season. Ioannidis is under contract for two more seasons, too.
"We don't have to worry about that position for quite some time," Rivera said. "We could build the rest of the team now."
The head coach hopes Young is the final addition to the defensive line unit that will dominate together for years.
"Going forward, we fixed the defensive line now. We added that last piece of the puzzle with the D line," he said. "The impact of choosing Chase as our No. 1 pick is very helpful."
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