3 quarterbacks in genuine contention for the Carolina Panthers pick at No. 1

C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson
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Carolina Panthers
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Carolina Panthers could draft Bryce Young

A five-star high school recruit and the nationally top-ranked quarterback out of California, Bryce Young committed to the University of Alabama in 2020 and took over the starting job from another first-rounder, Tua Tagovailoa, in 2021.

Young proved his high ranking to be correct without delay, earning a 92.2 overall Pro Football Focus grade in his first season as the field general, all the way up to the podium to accept his Heisman Trophy. His Crimson Tide lost significant talent to the NFL Draft following the season, so it would be understandable to see a noticeable regression in 2022.

Well, unless of course, you’re Young. He graded out with a 91.5 overall number this past season. That comes with arguably the weakest skill-position players and offensive line that the amateur NFL program has had in recent history.

As discussed in depth in our article about the S2 Cognition test, Young is an elite processor. Young scored in the 98th percentile on the exam, putting him above Joe Burrow (97th percentile last year), who was regarded as generational in that aspect. It also provides another linear connection to the Drew Brees comparison, who landed in the high 90s.

The biggest advantage Young carries, outside of processing acuity and essentially being a coach on the field, is his intangibles. The prospect's innate awareness and split-second decision-making could almost convince me that he’s possibly the first human being to have an extra set of eyes, these being located on the back of his head.

There are quantifiable aspects to really appreciate about Young, as well. Top-tier accuracy, natural mechanics, quick release, and effective targeting over the middle of the field are all highly coveted NFL skills. While not the strongest in the class, his arm strength is entirely satisfactory for the league and he’s capable of making any throw required.

To go along with his situational awareness, Young has the athletic evasiveness needed to elude pressure and even generate yardage with his legs. While I don’t foresee that being a planned aspect of his NFL game, the subtle movements within the pocket are super beneficial to extending plays and putting his receivers in the position to find success in various route depths.

Now I’m going to let you in on a secret and break the Internet… he’s small. No way to spin it. He’s 5-foot-10 and weighed in at 204 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, though his playing weight is likely closer to 190-195 pounds. He’s a physical outlier for the position. That is the biggest obstacle that the Carolina Panthers must be comfortable with.

My personal belief is that he uses every single one of his individual advantages to minimize the impact of such a diminutive stature. Young has been able to maintain his health in the SEC for two straight seasons, only suffering minor injuries and missing minimal time. But it’s a risky component and rightfully warrants speculation.

Whichever prospect this staff and front office decide is the future leader of our beloved Carolina Panthers, my endgame is that they’ll eventually lead us to march down Mint Street again – only this time, on our way to see the Lombardi Trophy.

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