KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Bryce Young’s talent outweighed concerns about his size.
The Carolina Panthers selected the slender and dynamic Alabama quarterback with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, seven weeks after making a blockbuster trade with Chicago to move up to get their choice of potential franchise players.
The Panthers chose the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner over Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis. New coach Frank Reich said earlier in the week that the organization reached a consensus Monday after several weeks of deliberation.
A dual-threat playmaker with a strong arm and an elite combination of instincts and intelligence, Young also possesses the intangibles and characteristics coaches desire, including leadership ability and a strong work ethic.
But the biggest question about Young is his size. He measured at 5-foot-10 1/8 and weighed 204 pounds at the combine. Though he dominated the SEC, some scouts and coaches fear Young may not be able to physically withstand all the hits in the NFL.
The Panthers couldn’t pass up his superior skills.
Kyler Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, is the only other QB since 2003 to be selected in the first round after weighing in at 207 pounds or less at the combine.
“I’m confident in my abilities,” Young said Wednesday. “I don’t know how to play the game another way. I’ve been this size relative to the people around me my entire life. I focus on what I control, and I can’t grow. That doesn’t fall into that category. I can’t get any taller. I focus on myself. I’m confident in myself with what I’ve been able to do and I’m excited for the work it’s going to take.”
The Panthers have sought an answer at quarterback since moving on from Cam Newton, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 and the NFL MVP in 2015 when he led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance.
Young had a spectacular career at Alabama and the Panthers are hoping he can deliver the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy. He played in a pro-style offense under offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, the former Texans head coach who has returned to the NFL to run New England’s offense.
Young threw for 4,872 yards with 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first season starting as a sophomore in 2021. Last season, he had 3,328 yards passing with 32 TDs and five picks while playing with a new supporting cast.
Young becomes the first Crimson Tide player ever taken number one overall since the AFL/NFL merger as Carolina had the top pick for the first time since 2011, when it selected Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.