Yahoo Sports' top 2020 NFL draft prospects, No. 1: Ohio State EDGE Chase Young

Eric Edholm
·8 min read
Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports
Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports

1. Ohio State EDGE Chase Young

6-foot-5, 264 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 7.25 — eventual All-Pro

TL;DR scouting report: Clear-cut best pass rusher in the 2020 NFL draft — able to win with quickness, power and technique — with only a few holes in his game.

The skinny: A 5-star Rivals recruit (and top-10 nationally), Young chose the Buckeyes over Alabama, saying it had more of a family-oriented feel. He played as a true freshman in 2017, making 19 tackles (six for losses) and 3.5 sacks as a reserve in 12 games.

In 2018, Young became a household name, especially after teammate Nick Bosa finished his season after three games. Young made 34 tackles (15.5 for losses), 10.5 sacks, five passes defended and two forced fumbles, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors.

As a junior in 2019, Young took home several major honors — first-team AP All-America and winning the Chuck Bednarik Award, Ted Hendricks Award and Bronko Nagurski Award — despite only playing 12 games. He led the country in both sacks (16.5) and forced fumbles (six) and made 46 tackles, with 21 of them for losses. Young was suspended for two games last season after receiving a loan from “a family friend,” reportedly to help fly his girlfriend to the Rose Bowl the season prior.

Young, who turned 21 years old in April, declared for the 2020 NFL draft. He attended the NFL scouting combine but opted not to work out there.

Upside: Rare combination of the size, power and athleticism. Athletes such as him just do not come along too often. Has the speed to bend the edge, the power to work through blockers and the lateral agility to make plays up and down the line. Shocks linemen with his big, forceful hands. Extremely twitchy lower body. Outstanding length (80-inch wingspan).

More explosive athlete than either Bosa brother. Often has a full step off the line before the offensive tackle is out of his stance — sets up his handwork by gaining an edge off the ball. Gets tackles to underset and overset and works his pass-rush moves off of that. Flashes a great swim move to just float by blockers in a flash.

Swipe-rip move might be his most effective rush. Gets tackles to slow their feet with a devastating stutter-step rush — works inside or out and leaves them in the dust with his quickness. Does a good job of redirecting punches and chopping down blockers’ hands. Refined his craft under noted DL coach Larry Johnson and added to his bag of tricks every season.

Forces offenses to locate him, shift their protections, run away from him, use more quick-game stuff or commit extra blockers in his direction. Rushes from two-, three- and four-point stances and flipped sides of the field regularly. Kicked inside on some passing downs (see Wisconsin game when he lined up over the center), stood up as a stalking rusher and occasionally dropped into short zones. Great on stunts and twists and can work guards with his quickness and even his power.

Here’s Young stalking at the line as a stand-up rusher (No. 2), and Wisconsin is resigned to let him rush because they have a screen pass called. No matter — watch Young change directions and come back to finish off RB Garrett Groshek before he gets started:

Young has the ability to change directions quickly and affect plays from the backside.
Young has the ability to change directions quickly and affect plays from the backside.

There were about a dozen plays from this first matchup against Wisconsin that stood out for Young, but there’s something so pretty about his bull rush, too. Watch as he converts speed to power and uses a long-arm technique to defeat the Badgers’ left tackle for the sack:

Young has power that can overwhelm blockers.
Young has power that can overwhelm blockers.

Anyone who said Young disappeared in the semifinal playoff loss to Clemson didn’t watch the tape. Young might not have registered a sack or tackle for loss, but he was a handful all night with three hits on QB Trevor Lawrence and several more pressures.

This is an incredible play by Lawrence to even get this pass off with Young bearing down on him after his initial stunt was stymied:

Young was disruptive against the Tigers, even if the box-score sniffers tell you otherwise.
Young was disruptive against the Tigers, even if the box-score sniffers tell you otherwise.

Anyone questioning his motor, please watch this play. Young (No. 2, on the right end of the line) made a great hustle play in that game to tackle RB Lyn-J Dixon — who ran an 11-second 100-meter dash in high school — almost 20 yards downfield, traversing from the other side of the field:

This was tremendous effort by Young on this play.
This was tremendous effort by Young on this play.

Upped his game to a new level in 2019 — wore a target on his back and delivered time and time again. Also dominated most of the 2018 season without Bosa on the other side, as he sat out all but three games with a core muscle injury. Showed a little toughness in 2018 playing through a right high ankle sprain and a lower left ankle sprain.

Considered a pass-rush student. Wants to be great and usually plays like it. Can be coached hard and have high expectations placed on him.

Downside: Might not have a Bosa-level rookie season — not quite as technically advanced as his former teammate. Still learning to use which moves when — has some seasoning to do in terms of timing and selection. Countermoves can be unimaginative at times when initial rush is stymied. Will rush with too wide of an arc and run himself out of plays.

Effort can wax and wane. Survived as a run defender with elite athletic skills but still needs to bear down more and maximize his skills. Was a TFL machine but didn’t always do everything he could have against the run. Gives pedestrian effort disengaging from blocks when he doesn’t win off the snap.

Could do a better job defeating double teams. Needs to consistently set a harder edge. Will lose sight of the ball and allow runners to skip right past him. Prone to losing gap integrity on read options, end arounds and misdirection plays. Bit on fakes and lost contain.

Here’s a prime example of that against Cincinnati — Young bites on the give and lets the QB easily convert on fourth down (and they ran a few variations of this in the game, with Young often failing to find the ball in time):

Young falls for a fair number of read-option fakes.
Young falls for a fair number of read-option fakes.

Production leveled off down the stretch — zero sacks in final three games (Michigan, Wisconsin, Clemson). Wisconsin had a better plan for him the second time around. Missed two games with suspension, and OSU defense was nearly just as effective without him.

Penalties can be an issue — whistled six times the past two seasons for offsides calls. Also flagged for going a bit too far at times (unsportsmanlike conduct, facemask and roughing the passer).

Best-suited destination: Young can fit any scheme or front. If the Washington Redskins — a team Young grew up watching — pass on him, we feel it will be a mistake they’ll rue for years.

Did you know: Young was high school teammates at DeMatha Catholic (Maryland) with Maryland RB Anthony McFarland, another 2020 NFL draft prospect, and former NBA No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. Young played football with McFarland and basketball with Fultz.

They said it: “I feel like I can do everything. I would do anything a team would need me to do. I feel I can do it when I put my mind to it. If they want me to move in to a 3-tech and rush the passer, outside with my hand in the dirt, if you want me to stand up, I can do it. Drop back, check tight ends, I can do it. Play linebacker, I think I can do it. I feel like I’m going to come in with that mindset to get myself prepared to do everything across the board.”

— Young at the combine

Player comp: We settled on Myles Garrett as our comp, even though the name Julius Peppers was dropped more than once to us from the scouting community.

Expected draft range: Top-2 pick.

Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz | 40. S Kyle Dugger | 39. EDGE Terrell Lewis | 38. WR Laviska Shenault Jr. | 37. S Grant Delpit | 36. Jonathan Taylor | 35. WR Brandon Aiyuk | 34. EDGE Zack Baun | 33. EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos | 32. CB Jeff Gladney | 31. QB Jordan Love | 30. CB Trevon Diggs | 29. EDGE A.J. Epenesa | 28. RB JK Dobbins | 27. WR Justin Jefferson | 26. WR Tee Higgins | 25. S Xavier McKinney | 24. WR Jalen Reagor | 23. CB Kristian Fulton | 22. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire | 21. WR Denzel Mims | 20. LB Kenneth Murray | 19. RB D’Andre Swift | 18. QB Justin Herbert | 17. LB Patrick Queen | 16. WR Henry Ruggs III | 15. EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson | 14. WR Jerry Jeudy | 13. OT Mekhi Becton | 12. DT Javon Kinlaw | 11. OT Andrew Thomas | 10. OT Tristan Wirfs | 9. WR CeeDee Lamb | 8. OT Jedrick Wills Jr. | 7. CB CJ Henderson | 6. LB-S Isaiah Simmons | 5. DT Derrick Brown | 4. QB Tua Tagovailoa | 3. CB Jeffrey Okudah | 2. QB Joe Burrow

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