Does Chase Young Fit the 2020 Detroit Lions?

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Chase Young is a very popular player for Lions fans, but is he a “perfect” fit for the team?

Chase Young, an EDGE defender from Ohio State, is getting a lot of hype from NFL fans around the country right now. However no two fan bases are talking about him more than the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins. Young is widely thought to be the second best player entering the 2020 NFL Draft, however, how much of that is him simply being over hyped, or the position he plays? How can Chase Young fit with a defense that already has Trey Flowers playing a similar role?

In today’s NFL, defending the pass is becoming more and more important as offenses get quicker and faster every year. With players like Henry Ruggs coming out in this year’s draft from Alabama, adding players who can cover as well as pass rush is a primary goal for many teams. While there is still a debate on which is more important between pass rushing and coverage, team’s who have the best defenses, with few exceptions, have a mix of both. How does Chase Young, this draft class’s best pass rusher play into that discussion? How might that affect the way the Lions build their team going forward?

Addressing the Pass Rush vs Coverage Debate:

One has to understand why Chase Young is getting so much hype, his pass rushing abilities are off the charts. Young might be the best pass rusher entering the NFL Draft in the last decade. He generates consistent pressure, and wins quickly at the line of scrimmage in one on one match-ups. He also occasionally draws double and sometimes triple teams to help his fellow defensive lineman.

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Taking a look at Chase Young’s pass rushing stats last year, Nick Ackridge of PFF reports that Young had 56 pressures this year. Young played 577 snaps this season, missing two games due to suspension. While not every single snap that Young was in on was a passing play, Young affected a pass on roughly 10% of his snaps. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Okudah while playing cornerback for the same team, played 693 defensive snaps last year and was targeted 54 times last season. While several factors go into both players’ successes, Young appears to have directly impacted a larger percentage of passing snaps last season.

How Does Chase Young Fit With Detroit?

While the Lions already have Trey Flowers, one player who saw a lot of snaps last year was Romeo Okwara. Chase Young would take snaps away from Okwara on Day 1. Okwara was largely Flowers’ backup and a rotational player for the team. In that role he still played 612 snaps last season. Young could also take a couple of snaps from Devon Kennard who played a stand up role for the team on the edge this season. He landed in the 650-700 snap range for the team in 2020. The team may need to move away from some of their three front looks to get Flowers and Young on the field at the same time. While a significant change, it would be a move well worth making.

Another option is to move one or either of Young or Flowers inside on occasion. Doing so takes away from their run defending abilities on the edge and their ability to get around offensive tackles. Doing so would allow them to utilize their power rushes to push the pocket from the inside and generate pressure. This could be risky in rushing situations, but in a NASCAR set or obvious passing situation it could yield significant benefits for the pass rush.

Helping the Detroit Lions Fix Some 2019 Holes

One thing that the Lions struggled mightily with last season was getting interior pressure. Only one interior defensive lineman qualified for pass rush win rate. A’Shawn Robinson, who had a near 0.0% pressure rate last season. Da’Shawn Hand and Mike Daniels struggling with injuries didn’t help this area, however.

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One way the Lions could improve that is by boosting their defensive end positions and forcing double teams on Young and Flowers. If they can both lure blockers away from the middle, it could help the linebackers, corners and safeties generate blitz pressure.  It could also help the team’s defensive tackles face only one blocker while trying to collapse the pocket. While there will be questions about Chase Young’s fit in Detroit, schematic adjustments can, should, and will be made to account for his presence.

Does Chase Young Fit as a Run Defender?

While a lot of the discourse surrounding Chase Young is on his pass rushing talent and his abilities to impact that side of the ball, his run defense might be even better. While Young still has some areas to improve in rushing the passer (specifically his pass rushing move set and getting washed out of plays around the end) he is already a very polished run defender. He has great mental traits in reading plays specifically in his direction, he has excellent tackling fundamentals. Young also does a great job not just shedding blocks, but also eating blocks that allow players behind him to make plays uncontested.

Young shows on a consistent basis his ability to make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage against the run. He totaled 31 run stops including 21 tackles for a loss, 16 of which were solo. Young does a great job of positioning himself and utilizing his leverage to stop runs both inside and out as well as option plays. This should translate directly to the next level on day one for any NFL team that drafts him.

Chase Young Scouting Report

Here is where the question of does Chase Young fit with the Lions really gets answered. Young already comes in with strong polished run defense both from a technical/physical and mental perspective. This is something that the Lions highly covet and value from their defensive targets. He has great hand usage, leverage and has displayed the ability to eat and shed blocks consistently against high level Big Ten competition as well as in the playoff game against the Clemson Tigers. Young can come in day one and compete and should win a lot of reps as a run defender, including the ability to draw double teams, or be left as the free defender on backside pursuit. He exhibits a strong anchor and rarely gets moved backwards in run defense.

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As a pass rusher, while he still has work to do from a technical element, there’s no denying his productivity levels are through the roof. His efficiency is some of the best ever at the collegiate level, and he has dominated offensive lineman in the pass game. It would be nice to see him work on chaining his moves so he can win on second effort, as well as a larger variety of successful counter moves that allow him to win once he’s gone wide around the end.

Every Player Has Improvement Opportunities

The ability to take an offensive lineman 10 yards deep, force a quarterback to step up in the pocket, and then counter with a spin move would be a huge enhancement to his game that could have netted him several extra sacks in college. He already does a great job of converting speed to power, and has shown strong power moves including a bull rush with elite hand usage and placement on those reps. He has elite get off and does a great job using his athleticism at the snap point in a variety of ways to get through and around offensive lineman.

While he hasn’t had the chance to drop back too much in college, he has the athletic ability to do so on occasion. This could be taken advantage of to keep him on the field, but give him a snap away from the trenches. He has the athleticism to serve as a spy as well, and has shown the ability to get out to the edge quickly against outside run plays when necessary. Young is an elite athlete that should test in the high 90’s percentile at his position.

Chase Young Comparisons

Compares favorably to Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney who both went number one overall in their draft classes. High character player with a high motor, a team captain and leader in the locker room who has had no off the field issues that should carry over to the NFL level from all currently public accounts and reports. While questions may persist about how could Chase Young fit in an inside role or stand up role, he should be able to adjust to an occasional snap in both areas on a rare basis as long as he plays a good portion of snaps in a seven or nine tech alignment in base sets.

Don’t forget to follow @C_Robbins_ on Twitter, and leave me your thoughts on the Detroit Lions Subreddit! Check out some of Chris’s other articles for the Detroit Lions Podcast here.

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