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Landon Collins, Redskins Secondary Excited For Chase Young To Join Defensive Line


Landon Collins was on a video chat with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay when he heard the news that the Redskins had taken Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

He didn't need words to express how he felt about the selection. Before Finlay even finished speaking, he began clapping ecstatically and flashed a wide smile.

So yes, Collins is excited about the newest addition to his defense.

"This is a guy we needed," Collins said. "He's going to definitely change our defensive front. It's going to bring havoc to offenses."

Collins and the rest of the Redskins' secondary have good reason to be happy, because on top of Young positively altering the pass rush, they also expect he will make their jobs of defending receivers easier.

"It can do a lot," Ronald Darby said of Young after he joined the team in April. "The quicker you can get the ball out of the QB's hands, the more aggressive you can play as a DB and things like that."

Young, who is the odds-on favorite to win 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year, was widely considered the best player in the draft, but the Redskins didn't necessarily need him to be a top team in terms of sack totals. They were 10th in the NFL last year with 46 sacks and have been a top 10 team in the category since 2016.

However, that pressure didn't lead to success in the secondary. The unit was 18th in the league last season against the pass, allowing an average of 238.9 yards per game, and Football Outsiders ranked them 24th in efficiency.

But now that Young is joining four other former first-round draft picks on the Redskins' pass rush, Collins expects that to change.

"We don't have to cover as long," he said when asked by Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael about how the pass rush benefits the secondary. "It helps us tremendously on the back end when we've got defensive linemen that are just gonna eat and put pressure on the quarterback."

There are some plays where defensive backs have to cover receivers for 10 seconds, Collins said, and that time gets cut in half when quarterbacks know a defensive line is bringing pressure. That allows for the secondary to sit on routes and disguise coverages because they know the quarterback has to get the ball out quickly.

Kendall Fuller, who benefited from a defensive front that finished 11th in sacks last year with the Kansas City Chiefs, knows how a strong pass rush can help a secondary. Now that he's back with the Redskins, he already has high expectations for Young and the other defensive linemen.

"He looks like those players that are...a once-in-a-generation talent," Fuller said of Young. "Just to get one of those guys up front that makes our jobs so much going to help our defense a lot."

For the most part, the Redskins' secondary is going to have a completely new look in 2020; Collins is the only Day 1 starter left on the roster from the 2019 season. They haven't seen each other in person yet because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they agree on at least one thing: having a dominant pass rush helps the entire unit.

Safety Sean Davis said more than three weeks before Young was officially drafted that he couldn't wait for the prospect of playing with the Ohio State defensive end.

"[I] hope he can make some noise, put some pressure on the quarterback and make him throw some ducks in the air, make it easy for us on the back end."

That coincides with one of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's base philosophies for rebuilding the Redskins defense. He has touted the front since being hired but has continued to emphasize that its success will be determined by how each position works together.

"It's not about one group on our defense," Del Rio said. "It's about us as a complete unit. It all does work together. You need good coverage in the back end. You have good coverage, you have good rush, and they go hand-in-hand. If one is breaking down, it makes it hard for the other. When one is really dominant, it makes it easier for the other."

The Redskins see Young as a player who will affect not just the defensive backs but the entire team by doing what made him such a force in college, which is rushing the passer.

And since that gives them an advantage against quarterbacks, count the Redskins' secondary among the throng of people who are thrilled to see Young join the defensive line.

"It's big time, for sure," Collins said.