Most of the hype, projections and questions surrounding a guy name Chase on the Washington Commanders focuses on one with the last name of Young. Being the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft often does that to someone. After a dynamic rookie season that saw him named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and get his first and only Pro Bowl nod, the hype was everywhere. An inconsistent start to his second NFL season and a serious knee injury has since clouded his long-term future with the team and certainly tempered expectations among fans.
Young suffered his knee injury November 14th, 2021 against the Buccaneers, and underwent ACL reconstruction surgery (a more complicated procedure than an ACL repair) a week later. Young did not return to the field until week 16 of the 2022 season against the 49ers, and he certainly didn’t look as explosive as he did prior to injuring the knee. Still, fan optimism is high that he can return to the pre-injury form that made him one of the most coveted pass rushers to enter the NFL in quite some time. A defensive front led by Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat and Chase Young has the potential to be one of the best in the league.
There is another less-heralded Chase who is also a Commander trying to get back to form after another injury ended his 2022 season. Chase Roullier, who played his college football at Wyoming and helped protect Bills superstar quarterback Josh Allen, was a sixth round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by Washington. He played in 13 of the team’s 16 games that season (missing three due to a hand injury), starting seven at center. Roullier started all 16 games at center in 2018, and 14 in 2019. At the end of the 2020 season which saw him start all 16 of Washington’s games at center, he was regarded as one of the best offensive lineman on the team, and signed a much-deserved four year, $40.5 million contract extension in early January. Since then, he’s managed just 10 games due to injury, and the offensive line hasn’t been the same without him.
Just like Young, fans are hopeful that Roullier can return to form post-injury and anchor this much-maligned offensive line for the foreseeable future. Chase will turn 30 before the season begins this summer.
When it comes to value, teams across the league place an emphasis on EDGE rushers, hence the hype and anticipation around Young returning to form. However not much thought is given to the center position UNTIL you lose said player and the communication completely falls off a cliff.
Roullier is widely regarded as one of the smartest members of the Commanders. He’s like having a coach on the field. He sets protections, helps build continuity and is rarely out of place. Aside from the mental aspects he brings, he’s one of the best movers in space from the center position.
Chase Roullier in space! Thing of beauty! This guy is so underrated... pic.twitter.com/g4PVxs5Oi3— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) December 1, 2019
The importance of offensive line continuity can’t be understated, and getting Roullier back to help this unit gel is paramount. Furthermore, having a young quarterback under center magnifies the need for a good center - especially when it comes to calling offensive line protections. There is also very likely going to be two new starting guards heading into the 2023 season, and having Roullier anchoring the interior in between them will be vital to the success of the unit.
Although he’s doing his rehab away from the team in Colorado, reports are positive regarding his lower body strength and overall movement skills. Chase hopes to join the team for mandatory OTAs (although he may be a limited participant), and his outlook for training camp remains on-track.
So, while all the talk is about Chase Young and his return to health, my focus is on Chase Roullier as he works his way back from his second season-ending leg injury. If Roullier can get back to his 2021 pre-injury form, the outlook for this porous offensive line will drastically improve.
Which Chase getting back to 100 percent do you feel is more valuable to the Commanders?
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