Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Ron Rivera Always Viewed Chase Young As "The Guy" To Take With The No. 2 Pick


Ron Rivera sat in his house surrounded by five computer screens, two landlines and a burgundy and gold Redskins painting to his back with Chase Young's number dialed on his phone.

There had been calls throughout the week from teams hoping to tempt him away from the No. 2 overall pick. None of them could offer enough to make Rivera doubt that drafting Young was the best decision.

Young answered the call as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the pick. Rivera spoke to him and his father to deliver the message that he was going to make Young a Redskin.

This was how Rivera always thought the night would unfold.

"We've always felt pretty good about Chase," Rivera told the local media via videoconference. "You always kind of felt Chase would be the guy. We went through the process. It really was honestly something that was just a formality really going into it."

Despite months of speculation as to what the Redskins would do with the pick, Rivera's thought process wasn't all that complicated. In his eyes, there were three players in this year's draft who were worthy of being taken second overall. They fit Rivera's desired mold of someone who could change the team.

Neither of the other two options were more enticing to Rivera than Young, and now he has five first-round picks as the foundation for his defensive line whose efforts will be felt beyond rushing quarterbacks.

"If we can create that type of immediate disruption, it's going to help the back seven," Rivera said. "I believe we've taken the guy that will impact not just his position group, not just the linebackers, not just the [defensive backs], but I think the entire football team."

His abilities on the field, which includes leading all of college football with 16.5 sacks in his final season at Ohio State, are only a portion of what makes Young an ideal fit to Rivera and vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith. Take away all the talent as a pass rusher, and he still "checks all the boxes" for Smith in terms of his character, personal makeup and how he was raised.

"He's a perfectionist, he's a self-starter, all the things you look for in a football player, he's got [them], and he's wired the right way," Smith said. "So that part of it made me more confident."

Whenever Rivera turned on Young's film, he saw the desire, push and drive that he was looking for in a football player. And then when Rivera saw during their brief encounters at the NFL Scouting Combine who Young was a person -- an "easy going, soft-spoken young man" whose eyes lit up when he talks about being on the field -- that gave him more assurance that he was making the right decision in wanting to draft Young.

But what truly helped Rivera solidify Young's personality came from a rare 15-minute conversation between just the two of them.

"He had kind of a little glitch in his I went over and kind of nestled up to him away from everybody and we had a nice personal conversation. That 15 minutes really helped me in terms of just solidifying who he was for us."

Rivera, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and defensive line coach Sam Mills certainly want to get Young on the field and make sure he has an impact on every play, but they want to be strategic about his usage. The defensive line is already one of the team's strengths, and they don't want to use him on every snap just yet. For Rivera, the best plan is to simply get him on the field, see where he fits and build from there.

It doesn't sound like he foresees Young having a problem working with the likes of Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Ryan Kerrigan, either.

"I think that's a dynamic group, and Chase is probably one of the big pieces that you need," Rivera said. "We're going to rotate guys, so Chase could be in there with one group of guys and rotate, and the next thing you know he's in with another group, but we're going to use him to be a dynamic player."

And that seems to be just fine with Young. He doesn't have any set expectations for his rookie season. He just wants to be the best player he can be and prepare himself to make an impact.

"I feel like we're definitely going to have a great group on the defensive line full of first-rounders. I know those guys are already prepared to get after it," Young said. "Me just coming in, I'm going to be a sponge and definitely just work my hardest to be a guy who can make an impact out of that group."

Rivera wanted to find the "final piece" for the Redskins defensive line, and now he has that in Young. To him, there was no conceivable trade package that could convince him otherwise.

"I felt that Chase was the one guy that would really carry the load for us as far as that pick," Rivera said. "From my perspective, it'd have been very hard to convince me that somebody else would be as impactful as the guy we drafted."

Related Content