Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The top of the 2023 Draft Class is sort of an amorphous blob of talent. Other than running back, defensive tackle, and edge rusher, several positions don’t have a consensus #1 overall player – and quarterback is no different. There are several excellent quarterback prospects at the top of this draft class, all of whom could be quite successful at the NFL level. Like you, I’ve seen C.J. Stroud’s remarkable accuracy, Anthony Richardson’s raw physical talent, and Will Levis.
But to quote Charlie Kelly – let’s get serious here.
Bryce Young is the best quarterback in this draft. While there are undoubtedly concerns about his size, I believe that his arm talent, football IQ, and playmaking ability are all the best in this class, and I think that the Panthers and their coaching staff offer a place where he can be a successful quarterback at the NFL level.
THE CAROLINA PANTHERS
Matt Rhule is a very good college coach, but he is certainly not that at the NFL level. To show you just how incompetent Matt Rhule was, here’s the Panthers’ team DVOA rankings at certain points during the 2022 season:
Weeks 1-5: 30th DVOA, 1-4 Record, Rhule fired
Weeks 6-12: 25th DVOA, 3-4 Record, Steve Wilks named interim Head Coach
Weeks 14-18 (Post-Bye): 15th DVOA, 3-2 Record
It’s not like the Panthers were a good team last season (far from it), but I think Rhule’s incompetence combined with their poor start led to a more negative evaluation of this team than is truly fair. They have a good amount of young talent, particularly on defense – Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, and Jaycee Horn are all young, talented, homegrown players, mostly at key positions. Their offensive line is a solid unit that features an improving young franchise left tackle in Ickey Ekwonu, as well as solid starters like Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett.
Two major things have held this team back over the last five years: Rhule – who is gone – and the quarterback position. Ever since Cam Newton blew out his shoulder, this team has been through hell at the most important position in football, spending financial and draft resources on such franchise saviors as Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Matt Corral.
When Sam Darnold is arguably your team’s best QB in five years, something needs to be fixed.In the offseason, the Panthers realized that they needed to get serious at quarterback. Despite Steve Wilks’ success, the team went in a different direction, hiring former Colts head coach (and former Eagles OC) Frank Reich, who has significant experience playing and coaching quarterback. He’s put together a good staff, including offensive coordinator Thomas Brown and two former Eagles: Duce Staley (assistant head coach/RB coach) and Josh McCown (quarterbacks coach).
Reich never had a true franchise quarterback during his time with Indy (as Andrew Luck retired only a year in), with the team giving Reich several different Band-Aids to fill the position. That will change this year, as the Panthers made an aggressive move to go up from #9 to #1 overall in the draft, parting ways with several high draft picks and WR D.J. Moore. Moore’s loss is tough, but I do believe the additions of WRs Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark along with former Eagles RB Miles Sanders and TE Hayden Hurst are good enough weapons, at least before the draft (where they still have a high second round pick, #39).
This team needs a quarterback. They traded up for a quarterback. And they are going to draft a quarterback. The question is... which one?
BRYCE CHRISTOPHER YOUNG
A five-star recruit out of Mater Dei High School, Young (who was born in Philadelphia but raised in Southern California) initially committed to USC but changed to Alabama. There, he began his career as the backup to Mac Jones during the Crimson Tide’s National Championship-winning season in 2020. After Jones was drafted by the Patriots, Young took over as the starter – and he blew up, throwing for 4,872 yards, 47 TDs, and just 7 INTs while winning the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, and the Manning Award in 2021. However, the Tide would eventually fall short to Georgia in the National Championship. Alabama didn’t have as good of a year in 2022, but Young still shined, throwing for 3,328 yards, 32 TDs, and 5 INTs before declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Let’s get Young’s issues out of the way first, shall we?
Bryce Young is small. Really small.
He’s “would be mistaken for an extra in The Hobbit” small.
At the Combine, Young measured in at just a hair over 5’10” and weighed 204 lbs. Alabama listed him at 194 lbs., however, and he didn’t weigh in at his Pro Day, furthering the narrative that he simply bulked up for the Combine. While this may sound like a relatively average sized man, that’s precisely the problem – there is basically no precedent for taking a quarterback this small this highly. The logic goes that Young will be more prone to injury as a smaller player and would also have issues with batted passes and seeing over the line of scrimmage.There aren’t a lot of short, slight quarterbacks who have had success at the NFL level. One would need to have elite level traits and abilities to be able to do that at that size.
It’s a good thing that Bryce Young has those traits and abilities.
To put it simply, Bryce Young is awesome. He’s fun. He’s an amazing player to watch. I am not an Alabama fan, but every time I watched one of their games, I came away so impressed by Young’s performance. He has consistently been one of the best passers in college football, both from inside and outside the pocket, and he has shown the (dare I say Jalen Hurts-esque) poise, confidence, and coolness to excel in the biggest moments for one of the most visible college programs in the country. He’s also just 21 years old.
Highly accurate – Can fire bullets into tight spaces and layer feathers right to a receiver in stride.
i have no further questions pic.twitter.com/4ZkWPQFxdX— phillyphoebe (@phillyphoebe) March 31, 2023
Football IQ – Young is a very intelligent player. He knows how to make a play a successful one both in and out of structure and can both read a defense well and call protections.
Like I said. Bryce Young QB1 pic.twitter.com/WBH5dAz5F1— TC. (@GoatLatia) March 23, 2023
Solid arm strength – He’s not Josh Allen, but he doesn’t have to be. Good enough to hit throws accurately and on time to all areas of the field with good velocity.
Alabama QB Bryce Young— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) March 23, 2023
A+ poise, accurate, can beat you stationary inside of the pocket and with sandlot-like plays outside of it.
Size concerns, but he has the skillset to be a face of the franchise type of player right away. pic.twitter.com/7IRGlPTxuS
Pocket presence – Young is a excellent pocket passer, with a good feel of pressure and knowing what to do in most scenarios.
Bryce Young’s poise in the pocket is unmatched in this draft. He’s fearless back there and is never rattled.— Kendell Hollowell (@KHollowell_) March 29, 2023
Creation ability – Young can get out of the pocket if need be, evading pass rushers, throwing guys open, and firing lasers on the move and from different angles.
Incompletion in the box score, but an awesome play by #Alabama QB Bryce Young from Saturday.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 3, 2022
Skillfully eludes pressure in his face and buys time. Throws a dart on the second-reaction scramble. Dropped. pic.twitter.com/tFJPsEEb7j
Mobility – He’s not Lamar Jackson, but he doesn’t have to be. Very solid as a runner and can contribute in that way as well.
Running QB Bryce Young. #CollegeFootball #RollTide— Justin Riley (@JustinRiley7) September 4, 2022
Poise – Go back and watch the last few minutes of the 2021 Iron Bowl. That’s the kind of quarterback you want leading your team.
Bryce Young went the length of the field to lead Alabama on a game winning drive against their arch-rival, Auburn.— Michael Rimmer (@avl_mike) March 23, 2023
He’s got that dawg in him. pic.twitter.com/wYubG2U8OH
He’s small.He might get injured.
His response to pressure inside the pocket can be erratic at times.Personally, I believe that the size concerns are somewhat overblown. He has shown that he can throw accurate, decisive passes over the middle of the field with relative ease.
In terms of injury concerns, Young has missed 1 game in 2 seasons (2022 against Ole Miss). Do you want to guess how many C.J. Stroud has missed? 1 game in 2 seasons (2021 against Akron). And Young played more games over that stretch – 27 to Stroud’s 25.The few minor non-size related concerns that he has can be fixed through coaching, work, and reps, which he will get plenty of in the NFL.
Stroud may be the “safer” pick, but don’t think that you move up to #1 – giving up the resources Carolina used to do so – to make the “safe” pick. You move up to #1 to get a true difference-maker, a guy who can turn lemons into lemonade, and that’s what Young is. Young’s talent is worth betting on, and I believe that whatever team gets him will reap the rewards of having a top-10 quarterback in the NFL on their roster.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2023 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus)
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan)
4) Colts (eaglenomics)
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop)
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum)
7) Raiders (joey2arms)
8) Falcons (Kephas)
9) Bears (chewy wellington)
10) Eagles (Philly21)
11) Titans (RachAttack)
12) Texans (Domonate)
13) Jets (JawnJam)
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion)
15) Packers (bdawk4ever)
16) Commanders (the dog did it)
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen)
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco)
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton)
20) Seahawks (wardbell92)
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom)
22) Ravens (Rollinpin)
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65)
24) Jaguars (dkays)
25) Giants (roberticus01)
26) Cowboys (EHyungNim)
27) Bills (EHyungNim)
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Panthers draft at No. 1 overall?
This poll is closed
QB Bryce Young
QB C.J. Stroud
QB Anthony Richardson
QB Will Levis
QB Hendon Hooker