The Panthers have traded up to the No. 1 slot in the 2023 NFL draft, but former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young — the most accomplished quarterback in the draft class due to his 2021 Heisman win, 2021 SEC Championship victory, and 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship game berth — may be missing the key element Carolina head coach Frank Reich looks for in a signal-caller: size.
ESPN’s Todd McShay reeled off the heights of previous Reich-coached quarterbacks and while he didn’t necessarily write off Young, he did promote Ohio State product CJ Stroud during ESPN First Draft on March 15.
“I’m going to give you some names and some heights that Frank Reich has worked with over his career — Peyton Manning 6-5, Phil Rivers 6-5, Carson Wentz 6-5, Nick Foles 6-6, Andrew Luck 6-5, Matt Ryan 6-4 … that doesn’t mean Reich and the Panthers staff is going to say no to a 5-10 Young, but you have to lean more in my opinion to Stroud, who’s 6-3, and is a pocket passer with the stature that Reich likes,” McShay said.
To McShay, Stroud or Florida’s Anthony Richardson appear to be the most likely No. 1 pick for the Panthers.
“But the more I’m thinking about it, the more likely is that it’s Stroud and the wild card is Anthony Richardson just because of the potential and the development and what Reich has done with quarterbacks over the years,” McShay said.
CJ Stroud, Not Bryce Young, Deemed Best Pure Passer
According to McShay, Stroud is not only superior from a size standpoint to Young, but he’s also the best pure pocket passer in the draft.
“Frank Reich is looking for a distributor, a guy who has fast eyes, processes and is a smooth natural thrower of the football,” McShay prefaced before saying, “If you’re looking for the best pure pocket passer of this class, it’s C.J. Stroud.”
Bryce Young an Anomaly for First-round Quarterbacks
Mel Kiper’s primary concern with Young’s size is that no NFL coach or offensive coordinator has ever dealt with a quarterback who is five-foot-10 and under 200 pounds.
“Will Levis, right there for me, could be QB1,” Kiper prefaced before saying, “Nobody’s ever coached a Bryce Young. He’s the smallest quarterback in the history of the first round. I don’t many head coaches or offensive coordinator’s who have worked with a 5-10, 195-pound quarterback. When you’re looking at Bryce Young, he’s unique to the first round. Can he maintain that (weight)? Not manufactured weight. We’ve never had a player when you’re talking about real weight and height together, size overall, being this size.”
Kiper compared Young to fellow former Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, noting the Dolphins’ fear of Tagovailoa’s health due to his slighter frame at six-foot-one and 217 pounds.
“The big thing is can he hold up physically,” Kiper prefaced before saying, “You see Miami holding its breath with Tua (Tagovailoa). That’s what you’re going to be doing with Bryce Young.”