Two stud defenders that initially made their name within the confines of The Shoe in Columbus, Ohio, the trajectory of Chase Young’s career in Washington has become an eerily similar mirror to that of a similarly dominant edge presence in San Francisco. Both talents saw their names come off the board as the second overall selections in their respective drafts—Bosa in 2019, Young in 2020. The former’s success this fall has invited optimism for the newfound anchor of the burgundy and gold front seven.
A boisterous presence for Ron Rivera’s group in his rookie season, Young’s nine sacks earned him the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year award that proved to be a runaway near season's end. An immediate leader both within the hashes and inside the locker room, it didn’t take long for Young to immediately assert himself as the alpha within a front four littered with high-prestige, fellow first-rounders, similar to Bosa. As both enjoyed rookie seasons that looked to set the table for what was going to be an overpowering sophomore campaign that would insert each defender into the conversation among the elite 5-techs in football, injuries quickly ravaged any hopes of fulfilling year-two expectations for both parties.
What makes their similarities so unique is the exact specificity of each occurrence through year two for each player. While their draft selection and first-year success are eerie enough, a torn ACL for both players in year two has given us a chance to compare and contrast each talent on a parallel unlike any highly sought-after prospects within the same position group in recent memory.
For Bosa, who appeared in just two games last fall before his season was cut short, he hasn’t missed a step in what has been another Pro Bowl season along the 49ers’ front. With 15 sacks in 15 games, while his success has been enough to focus on itself, this is about Young, and how the trajectory of Bosa’s quick rehabilitation and ability to maintain both his speed, power, and most importantly, his agility and flexibility in his lower half is good news for how quickly Young will feel comfortable to lift the limits off of his powerful frame and work back to full strength along what is expected to be one of football’s most formidable front fours.
A defense that has desperately missed his presence throughout the meat of their season. While he failed to amass a full sack in his final four games (169 defensive snaps), Washington will need No. 99 to work back 100%, and quick. As defenses continuously slid protections his way to double and triple-team Young at times, his presence alone opens up everything for the rest of the line. A group up front that has seen Jonathan Allen rise, like Young, as one of the premier talents at his position, the eight-game absence of the roster’s most animated leader has quickly placed Washington back in a pre-Young state of the franchise at 6-9 with a long climb up a steep slope following one of the worst losses in franchise history at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.
As talented as any edge threat in football, at full strength, Young has the ability to wreck a game at any moment. A unique talent that can overpower 330-plus-pound linemen only to then turn and chase down ball-carriers, the game is much, much better when Young is at full strength. An ACL tear that will represent a small bump in the road to what should be a rapid progression back to 100%, despite extreme differentiation in their individual games, Bosa’s trek back to edge dominance could once again provide a mirroring result from Young moving into his third professional campaign.