Washington Football

Washington Football

Washington's football team already had a talented defensive line in 2019. With a new core piece added through the draft (see: Chase Young) and plenty of returning production, the expectations for 2020 are high.

That is evident in Pro Football Focus' NFL defensive line rankings for the 2020 season. Entering the campaign, Washington sits at No. 3 on the list, trailing only the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles. The unit ranks ahead of the San Francisco 49ers defensive line (No. 4), which was dominant last season.

One of the main reasons for the high ranking is, of course, Chase Young. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft is someone that PFF pegs as potentially "the best pass-rusher to come into the NFL in a decade." There's no reason to believe that can't be the case, as Young's body of work in college was impressive. More so, his combination of size, strength and speed is something that not many have.

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Though Young has yet to take a snap in Washington, the expectation is that he will transform the defense for years to come. PFF believes he could be the "true star power" the unit has been missing in recent seasons.

Young may be the biggest name of the group, but he's not solely responsible for the ranking. Washington has invested several first-round picks in the defensive line over the years, and there's now talent to show for it.

 

Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne have been anchors in the interior and PFF sees no reason to believe that will change in 2020. Additionally, Montez Sweat, a first round pick in 2019, could be in line for a better sophomore campaign. Sweat showed flashes of great potential during his rookie year, but there was a clear adjustment period. In Year 2, the hope is he'll provide more of a presence in the pass rush.

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Matt Ioannidis is someone that can't be overlooked either. Though he wasn't a first-round selection out of college, he's been just as impactful on defense. Ioannidis led the team in sacks in 2019 with 8.5 and pressures with 55. PFF had him as Washington's best-rated pass-rusher last season. 

All these names and Ryan Kerrigan hasn't even been mentioned yet. One of the most productive players of the past decade for Washington, Kerrigan may see fewer snaps in 2020 due to the vast amount of talent along the line. However, he'll still have chances to get to the quarterback and add to his sack total that is one away from the franchise record. Additionally, Kerrigan and others could see more opportunities for success with Young now becoming a major focus of opposing offenses.

With a new star and plenty of other talent in the mix, Washington's defensive line has the chance to be one of the best in the NFL. Entering the season, the hype is already there.

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