Bryce Young was the first quarterback to the lectern on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, an appropriate anecdote that included hundreds of reporters gathered to hear from the prized Alabama passer and purported No. 1 overall pick in April.
While Young and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud are expected to entice another team to trade for the top pick and move the Chicago Bears down a peg, Young said he isn’t trying to read the tea leaves.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Young said of being drafted. “I obviously don’t get to choose. I’d be surprised either way. I’m just happy to be here.”
Young has been popular with teams at the top of the draft, meeting with the Bears, Houston Texans (who pick second and have the No. 12 pick), Indianapolis Colts (fourth) and Seattle Seahawks (fifth) and Las Vegas Raiders (seventh).
“Bryce is an outstanding leader, and an outstanding quarterback,” Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans said. “It’s no surprise the success that he’s had, just because of the makeup and the type of guy that he is.”
Young said he had a “great” meeting with the Texans, which might not be a surprise given Ryans also attended Alabama. Crimson Tide products John Metchie III and Christian Harris, former Young teammates, are also in Houston.
“It was a great environment, just being in that room, I got a lot of wisdom. I’m super-grateful for it,” Young said.
Young had 80 touchdowns, 12 interceptions at Alabama, and he left Tuscaloosa as a Heisman Trophy winner and national champion. It won’t hurt in team meetings with NFL suitors that Young trained under former Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who was Alabama’s offensive coordinator and recently rejoined the New England Patriots.
Stroud said his first meeting in Indianapolis was with the Raiders. He also met with the Texans and Colts and looks to get a leg up on Young by throwing and performing in on-field events during the combine. Young is holding out for Alabama’s pro day March 23.
“I want to be myself no matter what room I step in, let them know I control the room no matter what room I step in, that I’m a leader,” Stroud said Friday. “And show them the IQ I have, that I’m a student of the game. … I’m willing to go back to square one and learn it all over again.”
Former NFL personnel evaluators appear to be split on whether Young or Stroud is the right quarterback to build around. Louis Riddick said in an ESPN appearance that “sky is the absolute freaking limit” if Stroud gets in the right offense.
“This kid right here, look I love Bryce Young too, it’s like a video game watching the young man play. This guy right here, I think is the gem,” said Riddick, who previously worked in the Eagles’ scouting department.
Height and weight are questions for Young, who is nothing close to the physical prototype at the position. But his instincts, awareness and ability to execute at a high level when plays break down give him one of the highest “off script” grades from general managers since Kyler Murray was selected No. 1 overall.
“I’ve been this size, respectfully, my whole life,” Young said Friday. “I know who I am. I know what I can do. For me, it’s fair, everyone can speculate and ask whatever questions are necessary. I’m going to continue to control what I’m going to control.”
Stroud will be measured with the other quarterbacks in the class on Saturday, when throwing sessions and other on-field workouts take place at Lucas Oil Stadium. Like Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson plan to participate in all QB events.
The average height and weight of quarterbacks on NFL rosters in 2022 was 6-2 1/2, 219.8. Of course, there are notable exceptions.
Based on the tape at the combine, Murray was 5-10 1/8, Russell Wilson measured 5-10 5/8, Drew Brees was 6-0.
“You do want to pay attention to body type,” former Patriots general manager Scott Pioli said on NFL Network. “But go back and watch the tape. Spend time with Bryce Young. I’ve spent time with Bryce Young, I’ve spent time with his parents. This guy is the real deal as a quarterback and human being. This is the guy you want leading your offense and leading your huddle.”
–Field Level Media