How Bryce Young separated himself as Carolina Panthers pick at No. 1
By Dean Jones
How did Bryce Young separate himself from other contenders as the Carolina Panthers get set to take the quarterback No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft?
After a long, thorough process of evaluation from the Carolina Panthers after their striking trade to No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, it appears as if they've found their guy. Head coach Frank Reich admitted as much during his media availability on Tuesday, although he wasn't giving anything away in terms of who the pick will be.
However, it seems a done deal according to almost every analyst and insider. The selection atop the draft will be Bryce Young.
Young was clearly the quarterback they moved up for all things considered. They knew that the Houston Texans were supremely keen on landing the former Alabama star and jumping the queue gave them plenty of time to confirm their initial notions one way or another.
That's not to say Carolina hasn't given all four consensus top-four quarterbacks a legitimate chance of winning them over. They've held meetings, studied countless hours of tape, attended pro days en masse, and brought them in for top 30 visits before coming to their final conclusion.
How Bryce Young convinced the Carolina Panthers
After all the rumors, arguments, and everything in between, the Panthers are supposedly set on Young taking the franchise forward. A move that finally provides Carolina and its long-suffering fanbase with a worthy successor to the legendary Cam Newton.
But how did Young win the Panthers over?
Numerous signs have been evident during the assessment phase. Most importantly, what Young was able to put on film for the Crimson Tide during a sensational two seasons that included a Heisman Trophy and coming with touching distance of a college football national championship.
Young's command pre-snap, ability to go through his reads quickly, and veteran savviness under center are all transferable to the next level. The signal-caller can make every throw despite not possessing elite arm strength and has improvisation skills that already appear NFL-ready.
If that wasn't enough, there's also Young's ability to handle pressure and perform best when the lights are brightest. His football intelligence is absolutely off the charts, which general manager Scott Fitterer commented about following their initial discussions with the player earlier this spring.
"He held court. He was so well-spoken, so well thought-out. When he talked about his preparation, when he talked about how he studies, how he sees the game, he's at a different level. He's already at that NFL level, which is great to see. Nothing's too big for him. Like, he can walk into any environment and be in total control."- Scott Fitterer via Panthers.com
While there's nothing flashy or exuberant about Young's demeanor compared to Newton, his methodical approach and cerebral traits are something players gravitate towards - albeit in a different way.
Young's processing is something else that set him apart from the rest. The player's pre-snap recognition and quick decision-making limit the risks associated with his height and weight, which is probably the only concern anyone has about his NFL aspirations.
Carolina knows this. It's hard not to.
However, the staff has been working on a new offensive scheme to minimize any complications and to keep Young insulated behind a tremendous offensive line that made great strides in 2022.
The prospect is never going to be the biggest - he is an outlier for a reason. But Carolina will be working on his nutrition and keeping Young out of harm's way as best they can.
What's also worth noting was Young scoring in the 98th percentile during his S2 Cognitive Test. This is a contentious subject with varied degrees of importance depending on which franchise you speak to, but it's reportedly something team owner David Tepper values highly and might have been the tipping point to firmly make their choice.
Things couldn't have gone much better for Young pre-draft before embarking on the pros. This is a huge investment from the Panthers, which obviously comes with an urgent need for the player to immerse himself, get everyone on board, and leave no doubt he was the right choice.
It's a big challenge, there's no getting away from that. But nothing that Young isn't more than capable of given how his career's unfolded to date.