A good bet for the first overall pick would be Alabama’s junior QB, Bryce Young. He’s won a Heisman, been elected to the All-American team, and led the Crimson Tide to a 24-4 record over his two seasons as a starter. After two stellar seasons, Young has nothing left to prove.
- College: Alabama
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 195 lbs.
- Age: 21 yrs. (July 25, 2001)
- Year: Junior
- Draft Projection: Early First-Round
Young was recruited heavily as a five-star quarterback from Mater Dei High School. He received 28 offers from high-profile schools such as Georgia, USC, and Miami. Ultimately, Nick Saban and Alabama were the best fit for Young.
After the departure of Mac Jones, Young took over as the starter and had a historically great 2021 season. Throwing for 4,872 yards and 47 TDs, he won the Heisman Trophy and led the Tide to the College Football Championship game.
2022 was a ‘step back’ season, as he only threw for 3.328 yards and 32 TDs. He rushed a little more, for 185 yards and four TDs, and missed some time due to injury. The WR corps wasn’t as dynamic, and Young carried the team on his back for many games. Two tough season losses led to the team narrowly missing the College Football Playoffs.
Young makes impressive throws look routine, and his ball placement is impeccable. A lot will be made about his arm – it isn’t as impressive as some – but he makes up for it with placement. Young will also vary speeds and angles to ensure his receiver has a great chance of completing the reception.
The tight shot gives you an idea of just how impressive Bryce Young’s fourth TD pass against Kansas State was. pic.twitter.com/20xhvSwhPc— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) January 2, 2023
This throw is one of the most impressive ones I witnessed Young making. The placement in the corner with perfect touch allowed the receiver to make this play. Beautiful throw.
I love the placement of this deep pass, and it’s pretty much the limitation of how far I saw him throw. Young sets his feet and hits the deep ball perfectly, where only his receiver can catch it.
You’ll hear a lot of narratives of what Bryce Young lacks this off-season.— JC (@JCJDynasty) December 9, 2022
Don’t listen if someone says arm strength is an issue.
The last throw vs. Georgia future top 5 pick Jalen Carter barrels toward him. Young stands in and delivers a 60 yard bomb.pic.twitter.com/ZbR4ixckb5
Young made many throws due to time in the pocket, and the offensive line gave him time against many opponents. But he faced some incredible pass rushes, and his work in a collapsing pocket is impressive.
Bryce Young IS Houdini pic.twitter.com/UDFzN5kOwv— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) November 6, 2022
Young escapes the “pocket” versus LSU and is able to then complete a pass to a wide-open receiver. The escapability puts a lot of stress on a defense. Defenders lose receivers, and then it turns into playground ball – and Young excels when plays break down.
Here’s another play, this time versus Georgia, where he escapes the pocket and could take off running. Young turns a negative play into a positive and then flips the ball to his running back.
And sometimes, he will take off and run. Young doesn’t run a lot, but when he does, he’s smart and doesn’t take huge shots. The size definitely comes into play here, as almost every defender is larger than Young.
Perhaps the most impressive trait that Young possesses is his intelligence. He’s smart, has great instincts, and doesn’t make many mistakes. In nearly a thousand attempts, he only threw twelve picks. Young uses his progressions, will take a check-down option, and throws the ball away. He took 39 sacks last season and was infallible after many of them.
The offensive line and receivers were not up to the typical Alabama standard, and Young often put the team on his shoulders. Tennessee ultimately won this last year, but Young gutted out the game and nearly willed them to a critical victory. Whether he would play was up in the air, and Tennesse controlled the game. Young drove the team down the field multiple times and tied or got the Tide ahead, including the last-minute drive, which ended in a missed field goal.
The size is the biggest question. At 5’11” or 6’0” and just under 200 pounds, he would be one of the smallest quarterbacks in the NFL. Kyler Murray is similar in size but stockier and has been inconsistent with a much different skill set.
The combine and measurements will be critical for some teams. Young is working to raise his weight before the combine and pro days. Adding some weight can help, but the height will be scrutinized. What happens if he’s only 5’10” or even 5’9”? The closer to six feet he measures, the better.
Alabama’s offense schemes receivers open, and Young excelled in using his reads. At times, he would lock on to a receiver too long and wait for it to become open when he should be clicking through his progressions. It seemed to improve this past season, but it’s still there from time to time. Young will need to learn to audible and make more reads on his own in the NFL.
It’s a big plus, but it’s not without mentioning the negative. Young can make some big throws with touch, anticipation, and varying speeds. But I don’t see him as able to make that 25-yard across the field to the opposite side of the field touch pass. Young throws well on the run, and his mechanics are clean. He also knows his limitations and doesn’t try to exceed them.
After watching a mountain of film and weighing in what other pundits are saying, I can comfortably say that Young is the QB1 in the 2023 Draft Class. It comes down to one thing when I evaluate quarterbacks and consider their NFL prospects. Can they lead an NFL franchise? Young absolutely can.
He can make almost all the throws and is smart with the ball. Young is mobile, moves well in the pocket, and has performed on the biggest stage multiple times. The size will be a question, and the arm might be too. But Young proves over and over he can succeed despite “limitations.” The arm – heck, Joe Burrow had arm questions too. The size – we thought Kyler could never succeed. Drew Brees was too short, also.
Young will be one of the first two quarterbacks drafted and should be one of your first ones drafted in rookie drafts too. The former Tide star will be a starter in the NFL for many years.
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