INDIANAPOLIS — This might be too good to be true.
Chase Young is supposedly a better prospect than Jadeveon Clowney, Julius Peppers and Myles Garrett – not all three of them together, silly, but something like that. You know what comes with this NFL draft business. There are always comparisons.
The Ohio State defensive end, a year after Nick Bosa came out of the same program en route to NFL defensive rookie of the year honors, is what they call a “generational talent.” Guess that means that if he isn’t the next Bruce Smith, Reggie White or Deacon Jones, we’ve been duped.
Just don’t think these hyped-up expectations have penetrated past Young’s dreadlocks and gone to his head. Sure, he allowed himself during a Thursday media session to assert he’s the best player in the draft. No problem. Young (6-5, 264) can make that argument. He missed two games last season and still led the nation with 16 ½ sacks and had 21 tackles for loss. I’ll take him at his word until Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa or someone else can prove otherwise.
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Yet Young was also quick to declare that he is proud to be a grinder, which is probably as essential as his freak athleticism when assessing his true potential.
“Two of my biggest things are my hard work and dedication,” he said, “and I’m going to bring those two with me to the NFL.”
It's hard have a storybook NFL career without all of that. Young, though, has another thing going for his alignment-of-stars theme. It’s a good bet that Young, who grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., will wind up with his hometown team.
Washington owns the second pick in the upcoming draft. Barring some unforeseen twist of fate, it seems that not even Dan Snyder can mess this up.
“It’d mean a lot,” Young said of landing with Washington. “Playing in front of my hometown people, it’d definitely be a blessing. Everybody who has known me since I was younger could come to a game and things like that. But right now, I’m not focused on who could draft me.”
Young doesn’t claim to have grown up as some rabid fan who bled burgundy and gold (and there are so many of those in the proximity of the Capital Beltway), but he paid attention.
“I always watched the Redskins just because I grew up around them,” he said.
“I never really had a team,” he added. “I would always just be a fan of players. Growing up, I was always a fan of Sean Taylor, Clinton Portis and players like that.”
There’s an even fresher connection for Young with Dwayne Haskins, the former Ohio State quarterback drafted in the first round by Washington last year. Interestingly, Haskins has DMV roots, too, having attended the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland after moving from New Jersey while in high school. Young went to DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., a school better known athletically for its powerful basketball tradition.
It’s no surprise that Haskins has talked to Young about reuniting as teammates.
“Yeah, me and Dwayne talk all the time,” Young said. “I’ve known Dwayne since high school. He definitely loves the organization and obviously wants me to come play with him. We’ll see how this whole thing turns out.”
Young would be quite the centerpiece for new coach Ron Rivera to build a new defense around as he tries to turn around the fortunes of a franchise that has tried some of everything during Snyder’s two-decade ownership reign – big-money free agent splashes, bringing back Joe Gibbs, trading a cache of picks to draft RGIII, gambling on Steve Spurrier and then some – but has been woefully inept at sniffing the Super Bowl glory of another generation.
If defense wins championships, then picking Young makes too much sense.
Rivera generated buzz this week by revealing that he will visit with Burrow and Tagovailoa during the draft process. There’s also the thinking that a franchise quarterback is even more important than an impact pass-rusher. Last year, the Arizona Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick overall after picking quarterback Josh Rosen in the first round the previous year. A new coach, Kliff Kingsbury, dictated a new plan for the Cardinals, who traded Rosen to Miami.
Yet it seems unlikely that Washington would similarly give up on Haskins – and pass on Young – to snag one of the draft’s top two-rated quarterbacks. Maybe Rivera is merely exercising due diligence in evaluating the highly rated passers. Yet strange stuff happens. And passing on Young in this scenario would be so strange.
Regardless, this is not something to sweat for a man who contends that he lives in the moment.
“I’m not really worried about who might draft me,” he said. “I feel like it’s all in God’s hands. Wherever I go, I’ll go.”
Including back to his old stomping grounds as some type of hometown hero.
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.
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