Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown speaks to the media at the NFL combine on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Detroit Free Press
INDIANAPOLIS — Chase Young and the pundits agree.
“I definitely think I’m the best player in the draft,” Young said Thursday at the NFL combine. “I think I showed it on my tape.”
Young, the Ohio State defensive end, is widely regarded as the top prospect in this year’s NFL draft and the presumptive No. 2 overall pick by Washington.
One AFC area scout told the Free Press this week that Young is so good that if he falls to No. 3 and the Lions don’t take him, general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia should be fired on the spot.
With two months to go until the draft, the chances of Young ending up a Lion are slim.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is projected to go No. 1 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, and since Washington doesn’t need a quarterback – Washington spent its first-round pick last year on Young’s Ohio State teammate, quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and first-year coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday he’s “very, very, very excited about” Haskins and the other young skill players on his roster – it’s free to take the best player on its board at No. 2.
Young, a Maryland native, would be a transformative player for his hometown team, a defensive end who would pair nicely with Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan.
But for Lions fans dreaming of Young wearing Honolulu blue – and filling the Lions’ biggest need of pass rush – here’s how it could happen:
Scenario 1: Tua sweepstakes heat up
While Burrow is expected to go No. 1 overall, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is considered a more talented prospect.
Tagovailoa has reportedly gotten good reports on his medicals at the combine – he fractured and dislocated his hip and had surgeries on both ankles in college – and that could prompt a bidding war for his services.
The Miami Dolphins at No. 5, Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6 and Carolina Panthers at No. 7 all need quarterbacks, and while the Lions are regarded as the most likely trade-down team in the top five, the surest way for any team to land Tagovailoa is to go up to No. 2.
“If you get an offer that you just can’t refuse, then maybe you think about moving down a little bit, picking up extra choices, cause this team has a significant number of needs,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “Other than that, unless you’re bowled over by an offer, you take a guy at two who on most (boards) I think will be the No. 1 player in Chase Young.”
One offer that might work: The Dolphins give up Picks No. 5 and 18 – the perfect compensation according to the trade value chart – plus a later-round pick this year and/or something next year.
“Everything is possible,” Rivera said of a trade down. “What we do, we’re going to decide as a group and we’ll go forward from there.”
Scenario 2: Burrow balks
Joe Burrow said the right things about playing in Cincinnati on Tuesday, but he wasn’t enthusiastic about his desire to play for the Bengals.
What if he truly doesn’t want to play for Cincinnati and makes that known at some point over the next two months? Perhaps the Bengals still take him, or perhaps they move on to Tagovailoa.
If Burrow slides to No. 2, the likelihood of a trade goes up as he’s considered the safer of the two top quarterback prospects because of Tagovailoa’s medical history and has a prior affiliation with Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, his ex-play caller at LSU.
This would require another trade down from Washington, but it’s more plausible that a team would be willing to bet the bulk of this year’s draft or future No. 1 picks on Burrow than Tagovailoa.
Scenario 3: Doubting Dwayne
The Arizona Cardinals went against the grain when they took a quarterback high in the first round last year for the second straight year, and that decision looks prescient now.
Kyler Murray showed plenty of promise as a rookie, while Josh Rosen is on the brink of irrelevance with his second team, the Dolphins.
Washington is in a situation similar to what Arizona faced last year in that it has a new coach (Rivera) and personnel chief (Kyle Smith) who inherited the previous quarterback, and if we’re being honest, Haskins hardly looked franchise-caliber as a rookie.
Rivera said all the right things about Haskins at his news conference Wednesday, but he left open the possibility of drafting a quarterback, and said the team plans to bring both Burrow and Tagovailoa in for pre-draft visits.
Maybe Washington falls in love with Tagovailoa. Doubtful, but maybe.
Scenario 4: A trade up
By the Lions, that is.
Admittedly, this ranks far down the probability scale. The Lions don’t have a ton of draft capital right now, and they have plenty of holes to fill on their roster.
But what if they get extra picks by trading Darius Slay (or include Slay in a trade up, for that matter)? And what if Washington isn’t as sold on Young as the rest of the NFL?
When the Chicago Bears traded from three to two to draft Mitchell Trubisky in 2017, they gave up third- and fourth-round selections that year and a third-rounder in 2018. That’s a doable deal for the Lions.
Of course, for Washington to be on board with that type of move, they’d almost certainly have to fall in love with another prospect (Jeff Okudah? Isaiah Simmons?) that they value ahead of Young.
To be clear, there’s no reason to believe this will happen, but Lions fans who want Young can hope.
Young won’t work out at this week’s combine and won’t run the 40-yard dash at all during the pre-draft process. He said he wants “to be the best player I can be. I don’t want to waste time trying to be a combine athlete.”
If he does that, his potential is limitless.
“I think I bring a lot to the table,” Young said. “I think I bring the whole package as a defensive end. And I’m excited to show it.”