Respected analyst leaps to Bryce Young's defense after torrid rookie season

All hope is not lost with Bryce Young...

Bryce Young
Bryce Young / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Respected draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. defended Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young after his difficult rookie campaign in 2023.

It seems as if all logic goes out of the window for those keen to criticize Bryce Young. There's no doubt he could have performed better - he'll be the first to admit that. But completely ignoring the mitigating circumstances attached to his underwhelming rookie campaign doesn't exactly lend weight to all the heat coming the quarterback's way.

Anyone with half a brain could see the Carolina Panthers set Young up to fail. The offensive scheme was inept and lacked imagination. Frank Reich wanted to fit him into an already devised system rather than adjusting to the signal-caller's strengths. There were too many coaches - together with front-office personnel and even ownership - who thought they knew what was best for the player's development. That's without considering the subpar skill position players and an offensive line unfit for purpose.

Mel Kiper Jr. went to bat for Bryce Young

Another respected analyst came to Young's defense recently. Mel Kiper Jr. said it was unfair to assess the former Alabama star after just one season considering the circumstances during an appearance on ESPN's debate show First Take. He also highlighted the durability positives as a reason for optimism once everything around the Heisman Trophy winner improves.

"He got beat up. He was sacked more than almost anybody else and guess what, for his size, the one great positive for Bryce Young was that he came out of the year healthy. He didn't get injured. Will Levis got beat up and then missed a game. So when you think about Bryce Young, protect him, get some better receivers, and then we can evaluate Bryce Young. It's still to be determined what kind of quarterback he will be. C.J. Stroud had that infrastructure."

Mel Kiper Jr. via First Take

Of course, these comments won't matter much to some who've already written Young off. He's too slight. He's not tall enough. He can't get the football downfield with enough velocity against elite competition at the next level. We've heard it all a million times since the 2023 campaign concluded. To say it's tiresome and lacks context would be a massive understatement.

Fortunately, things should be more prosperous for Young in 2024 and beyond. The Panthers hired the perfect head coach to aid his development in Dave Canales. He's got proven credentials when it comes to enhancing quarterback production. He's brought several veterans back from the brink and enabled them to flourish. While he doesn't believe last year's No. 1 overall pick needs fixing, some fine-tuning wouldn't hurt when organized team activities commence.

Canales also plans to simplify things for Young and devise a scheme that maximizes the strengths at his disposal. Dan Morgan made his intentions clear about upgrading every position group the quarterback depends upon. If everything goes well in terms of recruitment and on-field planning, there will be no excuses next time around.

The jury is still out on Young, that's not up for discussion. Neither is the fact he was dealt an incredibly bad hand in Year 1 of his professional career. No matter what side of the fence you're on, these two facts aren't disputable in the slightest.

The Panthers must do their part. As for the rest? That's down to Young.