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Ron Rivera Calls Chase Young A 'Mini Version' Of Julius Peppers, Compares Him To Von Miller

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young plays against Michigan in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Ohio State defensive end Chase Young plays against Michigan in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Seventeen Pro Bowls, six first-team All-Pro honors and 265.5 sacks.

Those are the combined statistics of Julius Peppers and Von Miller -- two of the NFL's best pass-rushers since the turn of the century. After being selected No. 2 overall in their respective drafts, both were named Defensive Rookie of the Year before going on to become members of the league's 2010s All-Decade Team. And when the time comes, both will likely be first-ballot Hall of Famers.

During the Redskins' "Offseason Update Live" show Thursday night, head coach Ron Rivera was asked to compare Chase Young, the team's first-round pick in 2020, to Peppers, who Rivera coached during his final two seasons in 2017 and 2018. Rivera listed off some similarities between the two, then brought up Miller as another player Young reminded him of.

"He's not quite as big as Julius was," Rivera said. "He's built like him; he's a mini version of him. He's got a little bit more of that initial explosion. Julius was very long and his explosion was good, but because of his length it seemed even better than it really, truly was. I mean Julius was phenomenal, and this is a young man who could be that type of player."

"Von Miller comes to my mind when I watch Chase and I watch him work out and I watch the tape he's putting out," Rivera added, "so I'm pretty excited about seeing him."

Rivera had been interested in adding Young since he was named Washington's head coach on New Year's Day. His new team had the second pick, and it was a near foregone conclusion the Cincinnati Bengals would select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow at No. 1. So, if the Redskins wanted Young, the consensus top prospect in this year's class, he was all theirs.

Quarterback speculation and trade rumors muddled the pre-draft process, but as the three-day event neared, the Redskins' decision became clear: Rivera would be getting the player he wanted all along.

"We've always felt pretty good about Chase; it was just a matter of us doing our due diligence going through the process," Rivera said shortly after the selection. "It really was honestly something that was just a formality really going into it."

Rivera added that Young was considered the best and most-impactul prospect for the Redskins, whose defensive line now includes first-round selections from the past four drafts. His presence alone will free up his teammates in the trenches, while a strong pass rush will alleviate pressure on the linebackers and the secondary. Even as a rookie, Rivera believes Young will affect the entire team.

"What we'd like to do is get him out there, get him going, see where he's going to fit and then from that point use him, but use him the right way," Rivera said. "Use him to where if there's 70 plays in a game, he's not playing all 70, he's going to play somewhere between 40-45 because we're going to rotate guys."

While 55-65% of the snaps might not seem like a lot, consider that 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat played about 64% of the defensive snaps in 2019 and finished second on the team with seven sacks.

Young will still have plenty of opportunities to be productive, and if he performs like Peppers and Miller did as rookies, the Redskins' defensive front could be one of the best in the NFL.

In 2002, Peppers stuffed the stat sheet with 12 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, six passes defensed, five forced fumbles and an interception -- all in just 12 games. Nine seasons later, Miller introduced himself to the league with 11.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, four passes defensed and three forced fumbles across 15 starts.

Do not be surprised if Young puts up similar numbers.

"The best toolbox I've ever seen coming out of the draft," defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said of Young. "I haven't seen a guy come out with that many tools. I've seen talented players come out, but not with a complete toolbox like he has."

Del Rio is one of a few people that has coached both Peppers and Miller. Del Rio was the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers in 2002 when Peppers won Defensive Rookie of the Year. He then held the same position in Denver from 2012-14, helping Miller make two Pro Bowls and earn first-team All-Pro honors in 2012 with 18.5 sacks.

"He's just a great coach," Miller said of Del Rio at the 2020 Pro Bowl. "He's great at getting guys in the right mindset to rush and play football."

Del Rio also coached 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack in Oakland, so he knows All-Pro playmakers when he sees them. And while he has not been able to work with Young in person yet, he believes Young has the skillset and mentality to become that type of player.

"I've watched enough tape. He's going to be a real good player for us," Del Rio said in late May. "When you have special players like that, they're impactful players, particularly if they're about doing it the right way. And everything we've gathered in terms of trying to make the decision to take him where we did indicates that he's a guy that loves football and is going to be a great teammate for us."

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