Young, who was suspended for two games for receiving an extra benefit via a loan, has his supporters.
» MORE: Top 10 defensive ends in NFL Draft
“We’ve got a special player in Chase Young, who I think is the best player in the draft,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.
After returning from his suspension, some think Young put it on cruise control over the final three games, including the playoff showdown with Clemson for the national title.
“He wasn’t (a game-wrecker) the last three games,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “That’s the only thing with him. He didn’t play that dominant brand of football in the final three games after the suspension.
“I don’t know if he was protecting himself from injury or what have you. Had he been dominating in those three games, he would be in the discussion to be the No. 1 pick overall.”
Young defended his performance down the stretch.
“I had a lot of quarterback hits, a lot of pressures,” Young said. “If (you know) football, you would see that. You'll see how they changed their whole offensive game plan for one guy.
“A lot of people might not know how to really study a tape or may not know how to watch football, but … I made an impact in those games.”
Young even went to the “sacks aren’t important” card.
“Being the best defensive end isn’t about sacks, it’s about being the most disruptive player on the field,” Young said. “You can do that without having a sack.”
Young is from Upper Marlboro, Md., which is a suburb of Washington, D.C. He’ll essentially be going home if the Redskins select him.
Washington is expected to keep the No. 2 pick. The Atlanta Falcons hold the 16th overall pick.
“(You) just don’t trade off elite edge rushers,” Jeremiah said. “You have a need there at the position, those guys are hard to find. So to get a player like that, you would have to blow my doors off to get me to trade off that pick, if I was the Washington Redskins.”
Young could be reunited with former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was selected by Washington last season.
“I’ve known Dwayne since high school,” Young said. “He definitely loves the organization and obviously wants me to come play with him.”
Young blocks out the notion that he’s a generational talent.
“My only focus is on to be the best player I can be,” Young said. “I’m working to be the best, and I’m not afraid to let people know it.”
Once you get past Young, there is a big drop-off in talent at defensive end. LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson, Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa are considered potential first-round talents.
“He’s dropped a bit when you look at that 40 (yard dash) time,” Kiper said of Epenesa’s 5.04 seconds at the scouting combine. “The good thing about Epenesa, you can kick him inside. ... He has versatility.”
Epenesa was a first-team All-Big Ten selection.
“He had great production against pretty good offensive tackles late in the year,” Kiper said. “He dominated Austin Jackson from USC. He’s a late first (round) or early (second round). I think he’ll be a real good fit for Minnesota. They pick at 25.”
Gross-Matos has moved ahead of Epenesa through the pre-draft process.
“Yetur Gross-Matos, who is somebody I wasn’t super in love with when I first watched him,” Jeremiah said. “But the more I’ve studied him, I have to give him credit, he’s a good player.”
Florida’s Jonathan Greenard (Hiram High) and Jabari Zuniga (Sprayberry) also are strong defensive end prospects.
“He’s got a nice get-off,” Jeremiah said of Greenard. “He’s really good with his hands. He’ll push and pull, do those things. Very athletic, had an 80-yard fumble return when I was watching the Vandy game.”
Boise State’s Curtis Weaver has his supporters.
“Teams are all over the place on him … because he doesn’t have a good, a typical body type you would see for an edge rusher,” Jeremiah said. “He carries a little bit of extra weight. He doesn’t have great get-off, but he’s somebody with a tremendous amount of wiggle as a rusher, and he’s a finisher.”
Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor was one of the more dangerous pass-rushers in the SEC in 2018. Last season, he was slowed by injuries.
“If you watch him in 2018, (he was) a first-round type player,” Jeremiah said.
After the season, Taylor revealed that he played 13 games last season with a stress fracture in his shin.
AJC’s 2020 POSITION BY POSITION DRAFT SERIES
Quarterbacks: Joe Burrow leads class | Top 10
Running backs: Cam Akers' life lesson | Top 10
Tight ends: Harrison Bryant top prospect | Top 10
Guards/Centers: Solomon Kindley a late-rounder | Top 10
Offensive tackles: Austin Jackson's life lesson | Top 10
Wide receivers: Jeudy or Lamb | Top 10
Defensive tackles: Brown, Kinlaw stand out | Top 10
Defensive ends: A 'generational' talent | Top 10
Part 9: Linebackers
Part 10: Safeties
Part 11: Special Teams
Part 12: Cornerbacks
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