“I’ve dreamed of going to the NFL since I was about 6 years old,” Young said. “Like they say, you put the blood, sweat and tears into it. I believe I’ve done that all my life. It feels good to be in this moment.”
“I feel I’m the best player in this draft,” Young said. “It was [my feeling] after I put it on film. That’s the only thing that matters.”
While some teams had called the Redskins in recent days about a trade, Washington was long intent on keeping the pick barring a massive haul. The Redskins viewed Young as a player who could affect all three levels of their defense and make game-changing plays.
“I’m preparing the hardest I can to make sure I can have a pretty big impact,” Young said. “Expectations, I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about being the player I can be.”
A big impact is exactly what Young made during his three seasons at Ohio State. Last season, he finished with 16.5 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss in 12 games as the Buckeyes advanced to the College Football Playoff. He finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy vote, behind quarterbacks Burrow (LSU), Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) and Young’s teammate Justin Fields.
Thursday also marked the first time in the common draft era that the three top picks were teammates at some point in college. Young, Burrow and cornerback Jeff Okudah all played for Ohio State in 2017 before Burrow transferred to LSU. Okudah went No. 3 to Detroit.
Young left Ohio State ranked No. 2 on the school’s all-time sack list with 30.5. He also was a unanimous All-America selection and was named the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten. The NCAA suspended Young for two games for an unauthorized loan from a family friend. He said he used it to help his girlfriend attend the 2019 Rose Bowl and he later repaid the loan in full.
On Thursday night, Young said he was prepared to go to Washington and learn “like a sponge, come in and work hard, come in and try to put my best foot forward to win, because I love to win.”
Young, who grew up in suburban Maryland and graduated from DeMatha High, becomes the second Ohio State player to be drafted by his hometown Redskins in consecutive years. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins, the 15th overall pick in 2019, graduated from the Bullis School in Maryland.
Washington did not have a glaring need for another defensive end with four-time Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat, a 2019 first-round pick, at the position. Kerrigan missed four games last season, the only games he has missed in his nine NFL seasons.
But the Redskins did have a need for players who can be elite. They haven’t had a first-team All-Pro defensive player since linebacker Wilber Marshall in 1992. Kerrigan is the only Redskins defensive player to make the Pro Bowl since 2013. Their most recent All-Pro player was punter Matt Turk in 1996.
Young believes he will be an elite performer.
“What I bring to the table, how I prepare, I feel I’ll definitely make a pretty big impact on the field,” he said.
The Redskins’ defense hasn’t finished in the top 10 in points or yards allowed since 2009. But they will switch to a 4-3 style under coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Their goal is to build a strong defense, and they have touted their front as the main building blocks. With Young, the Redskins now have five first-round picks along the front. One of them, Kerrigan, could end up as a reserve with Sweat and Young starting.
Last season, tackle Matt Ioannidis led Washington with 8.5 sacks, followed by Sweat (seven) and tackle Jonathan Allen (6.5). But the Redskins were 21st in sacks per pass attempt on third down and ranked last overall on third down. They’re hoping the new coaches, plus the addition of Young, can greatly improve that statistic.
There was plenty of speculation about Washington’s intentions throughout the offseason, focusing on whether the Redskins should trade the pick. They need more offense and lack a second-round selection. However, all along, the Redskins made it clear it would take a lot — “a Ricky Williams-type trade,” one team official said, referring to a 1999 deal in which the Saints traded eight picks to Washington — to secure a deal for this pick.
Washington is also trying to trade seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams, and is looking for second-round value in return, to potentially gain entry into the next round.
The Redskins met with some of the top quarterbacks in the draft, but they want to try to develop Haskins, especially because he’s under his third coach since leaving Ohio State. He was drafted by former coach Jay Gruden, and he finished his rookie season with interim coach Bill Callahan at the helm.
Instead of selecting a first-round quarterback in consecutive drafts, the Redskins landed the player considered the best in the draft by ESPN analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr.
Rivera had said multiple times that, as he told ESPN again Wednesday, “our first pick has to be an impact player.”