INDIANAPOLIS – Chase Young doesn’t need to run a fast 40-yard dash time – or do anything else at the NFL Scouting Combine, for that matter – to be one of the top picks in the 2020 NFL draft.
The former Ohio State defensive end is already unanimously projected to be one of the first players off the board – most mock drafts have the Washington Redskins taking him with the No. 2 overall pick, behind only former Ohio State teammate-turned-LSU quarterback Joe Burrow – after a dominant junior season for the Buckeyes in which he earned unanimous All-American honors, won multiple national defensive player of the year awards and set a single-season Ohio State record with 16.5 sacks.
Young isn’t lacking any confidence in his ability to translate that success to the next level.
“I definitely think I’m the best player in the draft,” Young said during his interview session at the combine on Thursday. “I think I showed it on my tape. You go to every game, I think I showed it. And I definitely think I put my best foot forward this year. I grinded hard. Two of my biggest things are hard work and dedication, and I’m going to bring those two to the NFL with me.”
While a spectacular showing at the combine could have further cemented his standing as an elite draft prospect, he’s already demonstrated more than enough over his three seasons as a Buckeye to show that he has superstar potential.
NFL scouts would love to have a full set of workout numbers for Young to provide context about how he stacks up with other draft prospects athletically, but not participating in the combine isn’t going to stop the Redskins or anyone else from drafting him. Realistically, he’d have more to lose from running a slower-than-expected 40 than he’d have to gain from running fast.
So instead of spending the past two months trying to perfect his technique for the 40, the 3-cone drill or any other combine drill – none of which will actually help him play football better – Young has been focusing on continuing to improve as a football player and prepare for his first season in the NFL. He won’t participate in any drills with the other defensive linemen at the combine on Saturday, and he’ll only participate in position drills at Ohio State’s March 25 pro day.
“Me and my team, we decided that because that first day of camp when I step on the field, I want to be the best player I can be,” Young said. “I don’t want to waste time trying to be a combine athlete. When I step on the field, I need to know that I put my best foot forward as being the best player I can be.”
Young holds rare leverage – as does Burrow, who also won’t be working out at all at the combine – to do as little as he pleases in pre-draft workouts without adversely affecting his draft stock. He’s in that position because of what he already did at Ohio State, especially this past season, and he repeatedly gave credit during Thursday’s interview session to Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson for helping him get to where he is now.
“As we say at Ohio State with Coach J, it’s really drinking the Kool-Aid,” Young said. “My sophomore year, I was sipping it, but I think my junior year, I was drinking gallons all the time. So I think it goes out to Coach J. Extra work with him, film study. My play recognition went through the roof my junior year, and I think that’s one of the main things that helped me through this season.”
Young also gave shoutouts to Ohio State director of sports performance Mickey Marotti for developing him physically and Ohio State director of player development Ryan Stamper for developing him as a man off the field, each of which will be important as he begins his career as a professional football player.
“When you go to O-State, they grow you as a man, not just a player,” Young said. “It starts with Coach Mick and getting that relationship with him, and then it starts with your position coach, and I feel like Coach J, he goes out of his way to teach us not just to be the best player but the best man off the field. And definitely shoutout to Ryan Stamper. He helps us mainly outside of football, all the time, and just showing us the ways and when we get in there, just showing us the ropes. So I think that’s what they did for me.”
Ultimately, Young doesn’t want to be remembered for how fast he can run or how high he can jump, but for how he makes his team better and helps it win games. No matter which team that ends up being, he expects to be making a lot of plays on Sundays, just like he did on Saturdays for the past three years.
“My only focus is to be the best player I can be, and I’m working to be the best, and I’m not afraid to let people know it,” Young said. “So I just take it one day at a time, and I just try to live in the moment.”
“I don’t want to waste time trying to be a combine athlete. When I step on the field, I need to know that I put my best foot forward as being the best player I can be.”– Chase Young on his decision not to do combine drills
While Young played primarily as a 4-3 defensive end at Ohio State, he believes he has the versatility to fit any NFL defensive scheme. Whether the team that drafts him wants to line up with his hand in the dirt on the edge, kick inside to play 3-technique defensive tackle in pass-rushing situations or stand up to play outside linebacker – or all of the above – Young believes he has the skills to be up to the task.
“I will do anything a team needs me to do. I feel I can do it when I put my mind to it,” Young said. “Right now, I’m getting myself prepared to do everything across the board.”
Young, a Maryland native, said it would be special to be drafted by the Redskins and have the opportunity to play close to home while reuniting with former Ohio State teammate Dwayne Haskins. He’s not trying to focus too much of his energy, though, on thinking about where he’ll end up until it actually happens.
“Playing in front of my hometown people, it would definitely be a blessing,” Young said. “Everybody who’s known me since I was younger could come to a game and things like that. But right now, I’m really not even focused on who could draft me. I’m focused on being the best player, the best person that I could be.”