With the NFL Draft completed, Redskins.com is breaking down the team's roster as it prepares for the 2020 campaign.
After going through the quarterbacks, the defensive ends are next. Although the Redskins have a wealth of pass rushers on their defensive front, they used the No. 2 overall draft pick to select Ohio defensive end Chase Young and strengthen the unit even further. They also selected N.C. State defensive end James Smith-Williams in the seventh round.
Young and Smith-Williams will join Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat as the team's edge rushers. Kerrigan holds the second-highest career sack total in franchise history, while the Redskins traded up to acquire Sweat in the first round of the 2019 draft.
- Treyvon Hester
- Chris Odom
- Myles Humphrey
- Chase Young
- James Smith-Williams
The Redskins didn't need an edge rusher heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. They already had Sweat and Kerrigan as two of four first-round picks invested in the defensive line, so they had the freedom to address other positions or even trade out of the No. 2 pick.
But despite speculations that either a trade would materialize or they would use the pick on a quarterback, the Redskins chose to take Young, who many claimed to be the best overall prospect in this year's draft class. The decision earned straight A's by draft experts.
"You always kind of felt that Chase would be the guy," Rivera said at the end of Round 1. "We had to go through the due diligence of it...we went through the process. It really was honestly something that was just a formality really going into it."
Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio plan on using Young as a dynamic player, but they want to ease him into his progression. They want to play him the majority of defensive snaps, but he will also rotate in with the rest of the defensive line.
Still, the 6-foot-5, 264-pound Young was the most dominant pass rusher in college football last year. The main plan is to get him on the field in some way.
"The best toolbox I've ever seen coming out of the draft," Del Rio said during the Redskins Virtual Draft Party. "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."
Smith-Williams has had limited action as a starter, but he showed flashes of being a solid edge rusher at N.C. State and will likely be a developmental player. The Redskins also re-signed Nate Orchard to round out the position.
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Young, Sweat and Kerrigan are the main players in this position group, and all three have the talent to be starters. So, the Redskins will need to figure out a rotation to get the most production out of them.
Because the novel coronavirus has eliminated rookie minicamps, it is likely that Sweat and Kerrigan will get the majority of defensive snaps to start the season. The entire team is learning a new system, but Sweat and Kerrigan have worked together before and will have more of a foundation than Young.
Rivera said the Redskins would like to use him around 40-45 plays per game, but that could increase as he gets more acclimated to the scheme and playing against NFL offensive lines.
Orchard may also have some impact for the position. His best game in 2019 came against the Panthers when Rivera was their head coach, so he showed enough to earn another shot with the new regime. Smith-Williams will need more time to contribute, but he could be a useful rotational player with the right coaching and opportunities.
This is one of, if not the strongest position group on the team. The expectations for this group to positively alter games in 2020 will be high.