NFL Draft 2020: Predictions for Chase Young, Isaiah Simmons, Defensive Stars

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIMarch 23, 2020

Ohio State defensive lineman Chase Young watches a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

As the old adage goes, defense wins championships. Sometimes, that's truly the case in the NFL. Strong defenses have proved to lead to team success in the past, and it will likely happen again in the future.

Speaking of the future, there are some exceptional defensive players in this year's draft class who are about to enter the NFL. Many of them will likely be selected early as teams look to add potential stars to help them on that side of the ball.

Here's a look at three of the top defensive players who will be selected early in the 2020 NFL draft, along with predictions for where they'll be taken.


Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

The best defensive player in this year's draft class, Chase Young has the potential to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL. He made an impact nearly every time he was on the field during his college career, which ended with a stellar season at Ohio State in 2019.

Young had 16.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 11 games last year while also recording a career-high 46 tackles. That campaign gave him a strong case to be one of the first players selected in the draft, which he likely will be.

The Redskins have a lot of holes on their roster, so it would likely make sense for them to draft the best available player with their selection at No. 2, which will be Young. There have been rumors that Washington has interest in Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but it still seems more likely that it sticks with Dwayne Haskins Jr., Young's former college teammate, under center.

Expect Young, a Hyattsville, Maryland, native, to return close to home and become an integral part of the Redskins' defense for years to come.

Prediction: No. 2 to Redskins


Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Young won't be the only former member of Ohio State's defense to be selected early. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Buckeyes cornerback Jeffrey Okudah be the next player to come off the board.

The Lions, who own the No. 3 pick, recently traded cornerback Darius Slay to the Eagles. Although Detroit signed Desmond Trufant to help fill that void, it could also benefit from adding a talented young cornerback, such as Okudah, to its secondary.

Last season at Ohio State, Okudah had 34 tackles, three interceptions, one forced fumble and nine pass deflections to cap his strong career with the Buckeyes.

After allowing 243.8 passing yards per game last season (10th worst in the NFL), the Lions could use a boost in their secondary to help them have a better showing in 2020. Okudah would provide them an immediate boost, as it likely won't take him long to transition to the pro level.

Prediction: No. 3 to Lions


Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Isaiah Simmons isn't a typical linebacker, and he showcased that throughout his time at Clemson.

For the Tigers last season, Simmons did it all as he compiled 104 tackles, eight sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He had strong seasons earlier in his career, but 2019 marked his best year as he helped Clemson reach the College Football Playoff National Championship.

There's a chance that the Lions will consider taking Simmons over Okudah at No. 3. But if that doesn't happen, then Simmons won't fall lower than New York at No. 4.

The Giants will continue the early run of defensive players drafted by selecting Simmons, who should quickly become a playmaker for them and help boost their linebacker corps.

Prediction: No. 4 to Giants