The Washington Football Team had several players put forth quality seasons in 2020, but according to Pro Football Focus, there were five who stood out from the rest.
Defensive end Chase Young led a group of Washington players featured in PFF's top 101 players from the 2020 season. Young, who was recently named Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press, was the fourth-highest ranked edge defender at 37th overall.
Young was followed by guard Brandon Scherff (41st), tackle Morgan Moses (94th), fellow edge defender Montez Sweat (96th) and center Chase Roullier (100th), -- all of whom were unranked in PFF's 2019 rendition of the list.
PFF writer Sam Monson proclaims Young as "the best edge rusher draft prospect we have seen since PFF has been grading college football." Similar sentiments were shared by the overwhelming majority of draft evaluators, and his rookie numbers proved that he was worth Washington picking him No. 2 overall. Young's overall grade of 87.1 was the fifth-highest among edge defenders, placing him with the likes of Demarcus Lawrence, Joey Bosa and Myles Garrett, and he led all rookies with 7.5 sacks.
"Young had five games with four or more total pressures and also notched 32 defensive stops and [four] forced fumbles, showing a knack not just for pressure but for game-changing plays," Monson wrote. "Year 2 could be something special."
Rivera believed when Washington drafted Young that he could influence the entire team. Young backed that claim up several times throughout the season with four forced fumbles and touchdown-saving plays, such as making a diving tackle at the goal line against the Pittsburgh Steelers and knocking the ball loose from Joe Burrow's hands as he was diving for the end zone.
"He truly is an emotional leader," Rivera said on NFL Network's Good Morning Football. "The young man practices and plays at a high level, [he has] a lot of energy. He's a smart football player, a guy who came in who was a young pro. He understood what it was going to take, what he had to do to get himself to where he needed to be."
Coming in behind Young on PFF's list was Scherff at No. 41. Scherff put together career highs in run-blocking (80.1) and overall grades (84.1) and received the second-best pass-blocking grade of his career (81.1). He allowed just 21 pressures on 538 pass plays, which not only earned him his fourth Pro Bowl selection, but also a first-team All-Pro honor.
"A former No. 5 overall pick, Brandon Scherff has been a good player throughout his NFL career. But 2020 was his best season by a considerable distance," Monson wrote.
Scherff was not the only Washington offensive lineman who put up career numbers in 2020. Moses (No. 94) and Roullier (No. 100) also outperformed their previous grades with Moses' 85.9 run-blocking grade being his best by a large margin and Roullier allowing just one sack with a pass-blocking grade of 84.3. Roullier signed an extension for his performance in the final year of his rookie contract.
"Chase has been a steady presence and leader on our offensive line all season. He is a great teammate and does everything the right way," Rivera said. "We are glad to be able to reward a player who has spent his entire career here. He was well deserving of an extension, and I look forward to continuing to coach him as we work towards sustained success here in Washington."
Sweat also made PFF's list for the first time at No. 96. He recorded five fewer tackles than in his rookie season but made significant strides as a pass rusher with 9.0 sacks, 20 quarterback hits and 49 pressures. He also recorded his first-career interception on Thanksgiving against the Dallas Cowboys, which resulted in a game-sealing touchdown during the fourth quarter.
"[Sweat] played plenty as a rookie in 2019, with over 700 snaps, but was only able to generate 32 total pressures and earn a PFF pass-rushing grade of 58.8," Monson wrote. "This year, however, that grade jumped to 77.5 and he had 49 total pressures. Sweat was a real factor on a Washington defensive line stocked with first-round playmakers."