QB1: Bryce Young (Alabama)
Weight: 204 pounds
DOB: 7-25-2001 (21 years old)
Good Stat: 2021 Heisman Winner; Highest-graded passer in 2022
Bad Stat: 18 career fumbles
The best quarterback prospect in the class also happens to be the most unconventional quarterback in the history of the NFL Draft. Bryce Young’s list of accolades is taller than he is, and the weight of his fourth-quarter comebacks tip the scale more than he does.
Young, a California native, originally committed to the USC Trojans before reneging and flipping to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. The flip occurred before Lincoln Riley arrived, otherwise Young would have likely never made it to Tuscaloosa.
Nonetheless, he arrived to Alabama during the 2020 COVID-shortened offseason. Young didn’t get much of a chance to win the starting gig, as Mac Jones already knew the offense and had on-field experience in 2019 thanks to a Tua Tagovailoa injury.
Young learned the motions from Jones as a freshman, serving as the backup during Alabama’s National Championship run. Jones went on to be a first-round pick via New England, but Young made fans quickly forget about this loss.
He assumed the top spot on the depth chart in 2021 and put up the best season by any Alabama quarterback in program history. Young won the Heisman Trophy and is still the only quarterback to beat Georgia since the end of the 2020 season. In the 2021 SEC Title game, Young lit up a defense featuring a dozen NFL players.
His 2022 season was a step back but through no fault of his own. Young was asked to carry the most underperforming team in Saban’s tenure, and he did it. Two losses in overtime kept Alabama from earning a playoff spot and brought Young’s storied career to an end.
Young arrived at the NFL Combine with two things on everyone’s mind — his official height and weight. He checked in a shade over 5-foot-10, which is what most expected. The surprise came when he stepped onto the scale, as the slender signal-caller weighed 204 pounds.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what water weight is. He likely will play 10-15 pounds lighter than that, and this presents the only red flag in his NFL Draft profile: size.
Young’s height is easier to look past, even if it is shorter than any starting quarterback currently in the NFL. His overall frame is where the worries begin. Young suffered multiple injuries during his Alabama career, and the hits are only going to be harder on Sundays.
That being said, the reason I don’t worry as much is that Young rarely puts himself in harm’s way. He knows when to get rid of the ball and when to slide/run out of bounds. Go look at his tape. I bet you can count on one hand the number of times he took a big hit.
As far as talent goes, Young is the top quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is precise, intelligent, and never wilts under pressure. In fact, I can guarantee my heart rate is higher during clutch moments than Young’s. He is that poised.
Young’s size is only an issue if his play caller doesn’t protect him. Other than that, the Alabama superstar enters the NFL with zero red flags.
If Young is still on the board after the first two selections, the teams that passed on him will live to regret their decision. He is a plug-and-play starter as a rookie and should be the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
NFL Draft Grade: Early Day One
2023 NFL Draft Honorable Mentions:
Lindsey Scott Jr. (Incarnate Word)
Stetson Bennett (Georgia)
Chase Brice (Appalachian State)
Tim DeMorat (Fordham)
Jaren Hall (BYU)
Max Duggan (TCU)
Malik Cunningham (Louisville)
Clayton Tune (Houston)