NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chase Young, Washington Football Team

In a rookie class filled with talent, Chase Young shined above the rest and has been named the 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Several other rookies had incredible performances worthy of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, but it was Young who came out on top.

Who won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award?

Chase Young, EDGE, Washington

The Washington Football Team not only surprised many by making it into the playoffs when winning the NFC East, but they now also have the Defensive Rookie of the Year in Chase Young.

With the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Washington Football Team knocked it out of the park with former Ohio State University DE Chase Young. In December, Young was unstoppable. In games against the Steelers, 49ers, and Seahawks, Young racked up 15 tackles, 4 quarterback hits, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles, and a touchdown.

Young finished the year with 44 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. One of those he turned into a touchdown in the team’s win over the San Francisco 49ers. Chase Young and Montez Sweat’s combination has the Washington defense set to wreak havoc over the NFC East and NFL for years to come. 

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In winning the 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, Young continues on an incredible run of Ohio State dominance. Since 2016, four of the last five winners played at The Horseshoe. DE Joey Bosa won in 2016. From there, CB Marshon Lattimore was recognized in 2017, with DE Nick Bosa taking the honors in 2019.

Other NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Candidates

Jeremy Chinn, S, Carolina Panthers

In most years, Jeremy Chinn would have been a frontrunner for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. It just so happens he had to deal with Chase Young.

Chinn had an incredible rookie season after coming into it with little hype. The former Southern Illinois player didn’t enter with the college pedigree and the expectation that comes with them. He had a do-it-all year, as he led all rookies in tackles (117) and posted at least 10 in three games. Chinn also had five passes deflected. His season also featured one of the most incredible sets of plays in NFL history.

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Against the Minnesota Vikings, Chinn had a day for the ages. At 14:14 of the third quarter, Chinn picked up a strip-sack by DT Zach Kerr and raced 17 yards for his first NFL touchdown on the third play of the second half. On Minnesota’s next play, Chinn helped strip the ball from running back Dalvin Cook on a run up the middle and went 28 yards for the score that made it 21-10.

Chinn is the third player in NFL history with multiple fumble-return touchdowns in a game. However, he is the first defensive player to score a touchdown on back-to-back turnovers in NFL history. All of this taking place in just 10 seconds of game time. Those two touchdowns alone helped solidify his case for the 2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antonio Winfield Jr. was a playmaker at all levels of the defense in 2020 and helped get the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl LV. Between Winfield Jr. and OT Tristan Wirfs, the Buccaneers had a case for both the 2020 Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year award winners on their team.

Winfield started 16 games as the Buccaneers’ primary safety. He recorded 94 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Winfield was fourth in tackles for rookies in 2020.

Past winners of the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award

1967 – CB Lem Barney, Detroit Lions
1968 – DE Claude Humphrey, Atlanta Falcons
1969 – DT Joe Greene, Pittsburgh Steelers

Winners in the 70s

1970 – CB Bruce Taylor, San Francisco 49ers
1971 – LB Isiah Robertson, Los Angeles Rams
1972 – CB Willie Buchanon, Green Bay Packers
1973 – DT Wally Chambers, Chicago Bears
1974 – LB Jack Lambert, Pittsburgh Steelers
1975 – LB Robert Brazile, Houston Oilers
1976 – CB Mike Haynes, New England Patriots
1977 – DE A. J. Duhe, Miami Dolphins
1978 – DE Al Baker, Detroit Lions
1979 – LB Jim Haslett, Buffalo Bills

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year winners in the 80s

1980 – LB Buddy Curry, Atlanta Falcons (co-winner)
1980 – LB Al Richardson, Atlanta Falcons (co-winner)
1981 – LB Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants
1982 – LB Chip Banks, Cleveland Browns
1983 – LB Vernon Maxwell, Baltimore Colts
1984 – DT Bill Maas, Kansas City Chiefs
1985 – LB Duane Bickett, Indianapolis Colts
1986 – DE Leslie O’Neal, San Diego Chargers
1987 – LB Shane Conlan, Buffalo Bills
1988 – S Erik McMillan, New York Jets
1989 – LB Derrick Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs

Winners in the 90s

1990 – S Mark Carrier, Chicago Bears
1991 – LB Mike Croel, Denver Broncos
1992 – CB Dale Carter, Kansas City Chiefs
1993 – DT Dana Stubblefield, San Francisco 49ers
1994 – DT Tim Bowens, Miami Dolphins
1995 – DE Hugh Douglas, New York Jets
1996 – DE Simeon Rice, Arizona Cardinals
1997 – LB Peter Boulware, Baltimore Ravens
1998 – CB Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders
1999 – DE Jevon Kearse, Tennessee Titans

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year winners in the new millennium

2000 – LB Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears
2001 – LB Kendrell Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
2002 – DE Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers
2003 – LB Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens
2004 – LB Jonathan Vilma, New York Jets
2005 – LB Shawne Merriman, San Diego Chargers
2006 – LB DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans
2007 – LB Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers
2008 – LB Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots
2009 – LB Brian Cushing, Houston Texans
2010 – DT Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions
2011 – LB Von Miller, Denver Broncos
2012 – LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
2013 – DE Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets
2014 – DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams
2015 – CB Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs
2016 – DE Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers
2017 – CB Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints
2018 – LB Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
2019 – DE Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
2020 – DE Chase Young, Washington Football Team

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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