A lot of top draft picks wouldn’t think of doing such a thing, especially someone as acclaimed as Young, the former Ohio State pass rusher whom many analysts graded as the draft’s best player. But during a video news conference Monday, Young seemed unfazed by the attention swirling around him.
“Time to go to work” was his first thought Thursday night, after the Redskins had picked him, the cameras had been turned off and the fans who showed up outside his house had gone home. He said he knows the expectations will be extreme, that some are already trying to drape a gold Hall of Fame jacket over his shoulders, and he can’t listen to any of it.
“I just try to mute everything out,” Young said. “I try to mute out the negativity, I try to mute out the positivity, and just focus on football and focus on the smaller things, like focus on nutrition and focus on taking care of my body, focusing on the things that got me here.”
And so his first tasks after visiting Allen were to organize his next few weeks, to call his new coaches and new teammates. He learned the league’s rules for how much contact he can have with the Redskins’ staff, discovering he can use a tablet to follow the team’s offseason program even if he isn’t able to join the virtual team meetings that started last week.
He said he watches footage of himself at Ohio State — the same plays that dazzled coaches, scouts and team executives around the league — and sees flaws with the dominance.
“I can definitely get better. My hands can definitely get better; my hips can definitely get better; my first step can,” he said. “Hand placement in the run game can get better. There’s a lot of stuff in my head that I’m focused on and working on just so I can do better in the league than I did in college.”
Young also talked about the pressure of playing near his family’s home in Cheltenham, Md., not far from where he starred in high school at DeMatha, saying he needs to surround himself with people who will keep him focused. He said he knows that he is a young man about to make a lot of money and that people are “going to be coming out of the woodwork,” trying to affix themselves to his fame.
He said it is hard for him to say no, “but you’ve got to.” He doesn’t want any distractions.
“At the end of the day, this is your job,” he said. “You’re here to play football, but this is a business. All I can say is I’m going to put my best foot forward and show what I have, and how it ends up it ends up. But as long as I put my best foot forward, I’ll be okay.”
Young loved watching film while at Ohio State. Every week during the season he asked his coaches to prepare him a compilation of every sack that week in the NFL. Two of his favorite pass rushers to watch were the Denver Broncos’ Von Miller and the Chicago Bears’ Khalil Mack; coincidentally, both were once coached by new Redskins defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. His all-time favorite, he said, was Julius Peppers, who played for new Redskins coach Ron Rivera on the Carolina Panthers.
But Young also loved watching Nick and Joey Bosa, the sibling pass rushers who had come from the same Ohio State system as him. One of his favorite things to see was how effective the technique he was learning in college would be in the NFL.
“Obviously it’s working on the next level, and that’s something I’m very excited about,” Young said.
When he was asked which NFL tackles he looked forward to going against, Young refused to bite at the kind of question that could make him even more of a target for opposing teams.
“I’ll probably keep that to myself,” he said. “That’s inside motivation.”
As if he needed something to push him more.
Redskins pick up Allen’s fifth-year option
The Redskins elected to pick up the fifth-year option on Allen’s rookie contract, the team announced. The expected move will keep the defensive lineman, the No. 17 pick in the 2017 draft, under contract through the 2021 season.
Allen, 25, has emerged as a key member of Washington’s defense, playing in all but one game over the past two seasons after he was limited to five as a rookie because of a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. He was named a defensive captain last year and finished with six sacks after compiling a career-high eight in 2018.
The Alabama product, who played at Stone Bridge High in Ashburn, is slated to make $2 million in base salary in 2020, the fourth year of his rookie deal. He will continue to anchor a defensive line that now features three other recent first-round picks: Daron Payne, Montez Sweat and Young.
Kareem Copeland contributed to this report.
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