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Rivera sets high expectations for Chase Young by comparing him to former DROY edge rushers Julius Peppers and Von Miller

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What can we expect from the rookie in 2020?

During the Redskins’ Offseason Update Live Show, head coach Ron Rivera talked about the Redskins first draft pick of the RivEra, 2020 second-overall draft pick DE Chase Young. Coach Rivera referred to Chase Young a “mini version” of Julius Peppers and went on to compare him to Von Miller.

Both Peppers and Miller were also selected No. 2 overall before going on to win the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. This is high praise from the new head coach, but does it place unfair pressure on the 21-year-old rookie from Ohio State?

Given the expectations for Young prior to the draft, it’s hard to imagine that anything that can be said about him at this point can raise the bar. He was widely touted as the best player in the draft, compared favorably to the Bosa brothers — both of whom also played at Ohio State, each the first non-QB selected in their respective drafts, and each of whom also earned AP Defensive Rookie of the year honors — and is frequently referred to using the almost stale description of being a “generational talent” as an edge rusher.

Here’s a chart showing the rookie year production of both Bosa brothers, along with that of Julius Peppers and Von Miller:

If we use these four edge rushing talents as a cross-section of the elite players at the position entering the league at different points over the past two decades, what does it suggest about what Redskins fans can expect from Young in his rookie year, given the comparisons we’ve heard from Ron Rivera and in the pre-draft hype?

Games
Well, the numbers suggest that Young is likely to be healthy, but miss a few games as a rookie. Of the four, only Nick Bosa played all 16 games as a rookie, though Von Miller missed only a single game, and the other two played 75% of the season.

Snaps
The two players who were basically healthy (Miller and Nick Bosa) both played well over 900 snaps in their rookie seasons, and Bosa’s situation last year with the 49ers was not unlike the one that Young should be in this season; that is to say that Bosa was part of a talented defensive front that included multiple first-round talents. We can probably look for Chase Young to be on the field a lot, starting in Week 1 when the Eagles bring Carson Wentz to Landover as the first victim.

Tackles
Von Miller is the outlier here; the other three players combined to average about three tackles per game as rookies, which indicates that Chase Young should be in the range of 36-48 tackles based on the idea that he will play between 12 and 16 games. This, of course, is mere extrapolation of some blunt averages, but seems very consistent with the numbers in the chart above.

Sacks
The sack totals produced by these four Defensive Rookies of the Year form a fairly narrow range, from a low of 9 to a high of 12. The mathematical average of 10.75 seems to me to be a bit high given the strong interior pass rush of the Redskins, who achieved 46 sacks last season, with Matt Ioannidis leading the way with 8.5. If Chase Young contributes 9 or 10 sacks as a rookie in combination with Kerrigan, Sweat, Ioannidis and Allen, it would represent a genuine achievement and would probably signal a 50+ sack season for the Redskins defense as a whole.

Hurries
Matt Ioannidis led the Redskins in 2019 with 38 hurries; Ryan Kerrigan was third on the team, but first among edge rushers, with 24. With the switch to a base 4-3 defense and Del Rio taking over for Manusky, we can probably expect a more aggressive pass rush from the DEs this season. All things considered, I’m thinking that if Chase Young tallies about 40 hurries, converting 25-30% into sacks, that will signify individual success in his rookie season.

Forced Fumbles
Great pass rushers compound the game-wrecking impact of sacks by swatting at balls and forcing fumbles. Ryan Anderson led the team with 4 in 2019; Four players tied for the team lead with 3 FF each in 2018; Kerrigan led the team in 2017 with 3 FF. The four DRsOY above ranged between 1 and 5 forced fumbles in their initial NFL seasons. I would think that a target of 3 FFs would be a challenging but achievable goal for Chase Young in 2020.

Interceptions
I’m not expecting Chase Young to be dropping into coverage much this year. If he gets through the year without recording a single pass defended, that’ll be fine with me. If he ends up with a reception or a defensive touchdown, it’ll just be icing on the cake.

Career Information for Peppers, Miller and the Bosa Bros

Julius Peppers

Peppers is fourth on the all-time sack list behind Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Kevin Greene, all three of whom are in the Hall of Fame. After a 17-year career that began and ended with the Carolina Panthers — one in which Peppers was selected to the Pro Bowl 9 times and was named an All-Pro 6 times, and which included years in Chicago and Green Bay — he is widely expected to be a first-ballot selection to the Hall of Fame when he is eligible.

Julius Peppers #90 Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images

Peppers retired as a player in February 2019, and in May 2019, he was hired as a special assistant of business operations with the Carolina Panthers. There is no way to concisely wrap up his incredible career achievements, but he played in 266 games, was credited with 715 tackles, 159.5 sacks, 51 forced fumbles, 21 fumble recoveries, 11 interceptions, and 6 touchdowns. As a player, Peppers was a force to be reckoned with.

Von Miller

Miller, of course, is still playing. In his 9 year career, he has missed only 9 games, playing the full 16 in six seasons, and playing less than 15 games only once — in 2013. Miller’s 106 career sack total is actually ahead of where Peppers was after nine seasons (89 sacks), and if Miller can stay healthy enough to match Peppers’ 17-year career, he has a shot at challenging Reggie White (198) and Bruce Smith (200) at the top of the list of all-time career sack producers (per pro football reference).

Denver Broncos Super Bowl Rally Photo By AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Miller’s 25 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions and 3 touchdowns put him a little behind the standard set by Peppers for all-around defensive disruption, but Miller has a Super Bowl ring and Super Bowl MVP award on his resume to top off his eight Pro Bowls and 7 All-Pro selections. He is tied for 16th all-time on the single-season sack total list, at 18.5 (2012), and tied for 25th on the all time career sack list (and the only active player currently under contract to appear in the top-30).

Joey Bosa

NFL: OCT 02 Saints at Chargers Photo by Tom Walko/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Joey Bosa has 40 sacks in 51 games - a rate of 0.78 sacks per game. This is slightly behind the pace of 0.875 per game set by Von Miller in his first four seasons, but is ahead of the 0.675 pace set by Julius Pepper in his first four years in the NFL.

In four years, Bosa has gone to two Pro Bowls (‘17 & ‘19), but has yet to achieve All-Pro honors. It’s too early yet to know how “elite” or durable Joey Bosa will turn out to be. He has missed 13 games due to injury in his short career, but has had two healthy seasons in which he started 16 games, and based on PFF statistics, he converts 27% of his hurries into sacks, meaning that if he can stay healthy, he is likely to make his mark on the all-time career sack leaders list.

Nick Bosa

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Joey’s brother Nick is in a strong situation in San Francisco, He is part of an all-star defense, and played in the Super Bowl as a rookie.

Bosa finished his rookie year with 47 tackles, nine sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, two pass deflections, and an interception in 16 games and 14 starts. In the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings, Bosa sacked Kirk Cousins twice during the 27–10 win. In the NFC Championship Game against the Packers, Bosa sacked Aaron Rodgers once in the 37–20 win. At the NFL Honors, Bosa won the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, which his father {a former NFL player) accepted on his behalf due to Bosa being at the Super Bowl in Miami. In Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs, he recorded a strip sack on Patrick Mahomes during the 31–20 loss.

While Nick Bosa’s sack total was the least impressive of the four DRsOY highlighted in this article, in many ways, he may have had the most successful start to his career of the four.

Poll

Will Chase Young win defensive rookie of the year in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Yes!
    (221 votes)
  • 8%
    No
    (25 votes)
  • 19%
    This is just a stupid question
    (60 votes)
306 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Predict Chase Young’s sack total for his rookie season

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    fewer than 9 sacks
    (29 votes)
  • 18%
    9 or 9.5
    (54 votes)
  • 33%
    10 or 10.5
    (95 votes)
  • 14%
    11 or 11.5
    (43 votes)
  • 22%
    12 or more
    (66 votes)
287 votes total Vote Now

Poll

When NFL fans in 2050 look back on the first half of the 21st century, which player will they believe had the best career?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Julius Peppers
    (75 votes)
  • 31%
    Von Miller
    (81 votes)
  • 0%
    Joey Bosa
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Nick Bosa
    (11 votes)
  • 35%
    Chase Young
    (92 votes)
261 votes total Vote Now