Six weeks ago, the Carolina Panthers stunned the professional football world by giving up four high-value draft picks – and star wide receiver DJ Moore – to obtain the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 National Football League (NFL) draft from the Chicago Bears. On Thursday evening, they used that pick to select former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young of Alabama.
According to team officials, Young had been their guy all along – and was the reason the team mortgaged its future to secure the No. 1 pick.
As noted in our coverage of this trade, Panthers’ owner David Tepper wanted Young from the beginning despite alleged concerns from new head coach Frank Reich about the 21-year-old signal caller’s size (the Panthers list Young at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds on their roster).
Reich reportedly preferred former Ohio State signal-caller C.J. Stroud – who stands 6-foot-3, 214 pounds and is viewed as a more prototypical NFL quarterback.
Reich confirmed to reporters on Thursday he had some initial concerns about Young’s “durability” – but claimed those fears were allayed by watching him on film.
“When you watch the tape, Bryce Young is the best player,” he said.
My guess? Tepper made this call – and Reich is just following orders.
“When we went through the process with these quarterbacks, we asked ourselves, ‘Which one of these guys will be a guy that can take us?'” Tepper told reporters on Thursday. “Not to talk about all the different guys, but we thought this guy had the highest probability of winning Super Bowls. You want to win Super Bowls. And you know there’s no sure thing here. But it’s a probability. We thought this guy has the best probability of winning Super Bowls.”
Small quarterbacks have experienced success in the NFL. Russell Wilson – who is 5-foot-11, 215 pounds – was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times with the Seattle Seahawks, the team he led to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. Kyler Murray – the first overall pick in the 2019 draft – has also shone during his four seasons in Arizona.
Young is more of a pure pocket passer than either of those signal callers – both of whom are arguably sturdier and more mobile than he is. Does that mean he won’t succeed in the league? No. It just means he is less of a sure thing that previous No. 1 overall picks like Joe Burrow (2020) or Trevor Lawrence (2021).
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Tepper better hope his gamble pays off. He hasn’t so much as sniffed a Super Bowl since purchasing the Panthers in July of 2018. Carolina has posted an anemic 29-53 (.353) record since he assumed ownership of the team – failing to post a winning record or reach the playoffs over that time. By contrast, during the five years prior to Tepper’s purchase the Panthers went 54-32-1 (.621) – reaching the playoffs four times (including a trip to Super Bowl 50). The Panthers have also found themselves embroiled in a massive crony capitalist controversy (and an ensuing criminal investigation).
Tepper has his defenders, though.
Columnist Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post loved the pick, devoting an entire column to assailing the “excessive scrutiny, typical deception and media gullibility” related to the debate over Young’s size. According to Brewer, Young’s critics are nothing but “obsessed football minions” – engaging in a “game of lies and second guessing.”
“Lil’ Bryce isn’t a big risk,” Brewer wrote. “He’s a big, franchise-altering deal. For the first time since Cam Newton, Carolina will have one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL.”
We shall see …
Right now, only one thing is clear: Carolina gave up a lot for the opportunity to draft Young (including his top target in the passing game).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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