Washington's most impactful players of 2020: Chase Young originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
* The Washington Football Team's 2020 season was a memorable one filled with impactful performances. Over the next two weeks, NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux and Ryan Homler will take a look at 10 players who provided the biggest impact.
When looking at the most impactful players in Washington's 2020 season, Chase Young is the obvious name. So much so that he probably doesn't need an explanation. And, well, that makes him the perfect candidate to start off this series.
The merging of Young and Washington with the No. 2 pick was the correct choice before his name was called in late April, given his once-in-a-generation talent. It was the safe and smart pick, one that would give an immediate upgrade to the defensive front.
However, at the time, it was still fair to wonder just how big Young's impact would be right away. When picking that high in the draft a team needs a player that is going to help change the direction of the franchise. Create wins and institute new energy within the organization. Could a pass rusher do all that?
Young's 2020 season gave the answer and it was a resounding yes.
On the field, Young performed at the highest level for the majority of the season. After a fast start, there was a slight adjustment period that most rookies face. Once he got past that, however, the defensive end showed the skill and magic that many anticipated.
Statistically, the 7.5 sacks weren't mind-blowing. Yet, that's a very solid number for a rookie pass rusher -- especially when one considers that Young was going up against double and even triple-teams at times and he still topped all other first-year players. Additionally, sacks are not everything when it comes to defining how a player performs.
Pro Football Focus gave Young an overall grade of 87.2 for his 2020 performance, taking into account the entirety of his game. That rating sits only behind Aldon Smith, Von Miller and Nick Bosa in terms of the highest grade for a rookie edge rusher. That's very good company and demonstrates that even if Young wasn't always getting to the quarterback, he was impacting the game.
Young was also striving in other categories beyond sacks. He led all defensive rookies in forced fumbles (5) and tackles for loss or no gain (11). The big moments were also there, as a huge hit on Joe Burrow and his fumble return touchdown against the 49ers encapsulated the incredible nature of his play.
It was clear he was the best new defender to enter the league, rightfully earning Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Beyond his individual work, Young was also key in Washington's defense growing as a whole. His presence on the line of scrimmage is something that allowed other defenders to take advantage of opportunities. The attention he needed meant someone else was going to be left unblocked or at least have a winnable matchup.
From a football perspective, it's clear that Young had a big impact on Washington in 2020. Yet what he meant to the organization goes beyond the work on the field.
Joining the locker room, Young brought a burst of energy, positivity and leadership that was infectious. With maturity far beyond his age, he quickly became a major voice for not only the defense but the team as a whole. Constantly cheering on the sideline and encouraging each and every one of his teammates, Young was involved in every part of the game.
His personality and dedication to making himself and his teammates better led the rookie to be named a team captain halfway through the season, an honor that is hard to come by. Yet to head coach Ron Rivera and everyone around him, it was an obvious choice.
From wreaking havoc on defense to being someone that young and veteran players alike could turn to, Chase Young was everything that the Washington Football Team could have asked for in Year 1.
He was undoubtedly one of the most impactful players on the roster in 2020, and that trend should continue in the future.