Even before he officially entered the 2023 NFL Draft, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was seen as the likely number one overall pick – and that storyline still looks to be on track.
Having suited up for the mighty Crimson Tide under head coach Nick Saban, Young put on a show in his three seasons of college football, racking up plenty of time in the spotlight. With Alabama QBs not having the best track record when transitioning into the NFL, Young looks to continue the hot streak that Jalen Hurts recently started for Bama signal callers.
Having earned the top QB spot and the top overall spot in the 2020 recruiting class, Young was the prized recruit out of Mater Dei high school in California. With plenty of schools calling for him to join, Young eventually agreed to sign with Alabama after being recruited by Steve Sarkisian.
Upon joining the Crimson Tide in 2020, Young saw some time (seven games) as the backup to Mac Jones, so he was able to get his feet wet in a limited fashion. Entering his sophomore season, Young was given the starting role, and he took it and ran.
Passing for over 4,400 yards and 45 TDs, Young added quite a few awards to his mantle – the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award, and the Associated Press Player of the Year Award, just to name a few. Having already ascended into superstar status in his first year as a starter, Young still had plenty left to give heading into his junior campaign.
While his numbers did slightly dip in 2022, Young still threw for over 3,000 yards (3,325) and 32 TDs, only throwing 5 interceptions. While Young has never been a true running threat, he did earn over 300 yards on the ground on 33 carries, showcasing that he does have a good amount of mobility.
Strengths & Weaknesses
All you have heard so far about Young is how his height and weight will be a detriment to his NFL production. And while he certainly will need to overcome being on the lower end in both of those areas, he certainly has really, really good traits that will make you forget about him being shorter.
Ball placement and accuracy should be your biggest takeaways when watching any sort of tape on Young – all across the field, across any level, Young has exactly what you want in a young QB. His ability to hit his receivers in stride, on the run, and between defenders is easily the most impressive aspect of his draft stock – only CJ Stroud can even threaten Young for being the most accurate passer in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
His football IQ shows up in a big way on tape as well, and for all the right reasons. For Young, he has to have a second sense about him to be able to make plays, and his ability to not only understand and read defenses on the fly but also has shown a rapport for consistently avoiding the pass rush.
Before it was mentioned that Young is not known for running but he certainly has the ability to do so, with some sustained success. More often than not, Young gets out of the pocket when avoiding the rush, not on a designed run, demonstrating his ability to extend the play even when it breaks down.
Finally, the confidence that Young has and how he carries himself as a player and as a leader boosts his draft stock. It is never exuded in a way that screams cocky or over-confident, but Young understands the position he is in, and other players and coaches alike both know they can trust him in key situations, a super-important trait that, at times, other top QB prospects have failed to demonstrate.
On the flip side, Young and his arm strength, outside of his obvious height and weight concerns, likely is his biggest downfall. With a smaller frame, it takes more torque for Young to fully cork up a deep ball – and while he certainly can do it, that extra time in the pocket to compose himself for a deep ball (off of a balanced platform) could lead to a sack.
Young will need to continue to fight through the size questions that have been and will be thrown at him, but they are certainly warranted. It is rare that a QB of his size (5-10 ⅛”, 204 lbs.) is durable enough to be a successful QB for many NFL seasons, but it has been done.
The other issue with his size lies in his durability, as he already has had some injury concerns while at Alabama. Having missed some time last season due to a shoulder injury, teams are very well aware of the type of risk that Young is in April’s NFL Draft – but they also understand the copious amounts of benefits they could experience too.
NFL Landing Spots & Projections
It is no secret that Young and Stroud are fighting it out to be not only the top QB selected but the top overall prospect selected. With Young having done everything he can do while at Alabama to silence the critics for his size, he looks to have safely earned the spot at the head of the table as the 2023 NFL Draft season moves closer and closer.
In our NFL Mock Draft 3.0, it is the Indianapolis Colts that make the move up the ladder, jump other QB-needy teams, and get their superstar of the future. With teams like the Colts, Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, and Las Vegas Raiders all searching for a young QB in April’s NFL Draft, the Colts have been regularly tied to making that climb up the draft board and trading for the first overall selection.
The Colts would have one of the best situations for Young to enter into, and it is not solely based on the weapons that would surround him in the offense. For a QB like Young with his smaller stature, a strong offensive line unit is important, something that the Colts can offer.
Plus, a strong rushing attack with Jonathan Taylor, combined with solid weapons in Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, Jelani Woods, and others, would provide Young with great pieces to help him acclimate to the speed of an NFL season at a reasonable pace.
A great defense is a great best friend for a rookie QB to have on his side, and while the Colts’ defensive unit isn’t great, it certainly is above average and benefits from being able to face teams from the AFC South six games in the year. Anything to help Young succeed right out of the gate is exactly what is best for both the player and his new team, something that the Colts should consider when making this blockbuster trade.
Young is as close to a generational player as this draft class will produce, and with plenty of teams setting their eyes on drafting the former Alabama QB, it will be interesting to see just how much some teams are willing to pony up to draft what they think is a player that can help turn around their struggling franchise.