The 2023 NFL Draft has long been lauded for its talent at the top of the quarterback group, and the scouting report of Alabama QB Bryce Young plays heavily into that reputation. Even with Young, there’s a degree of uncertainty. But at such a pivotal position, a QB like Young — who undeniably has the elusive “it” factor evaluators often seek — will be in high demand.
Bryce Young NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’0″, 194 pounds
Ever since high school, Young has been on an astronomical trajectory. The Alabama QB was a consensus five-star recruit from football factory Mater Dei in Santa Ana, California. Over a four-year varsity career, Young collected 13,250 yards, 152 touchdowns, and just 21 interceptions on near-70% completion. He also added 1,084 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground.
What Young did in high school will live in history books for years to come. Fittingly, that’s how his Alabama career may also last as a legacy. After sitting his true freshman season behind eventual first-round pick Mac Jones, Young took hold of the spotlight as a true sophomore and ran with it.
In his first season as a full-time starter for the Crimson Tide, Young completed 366 of 547 attempts (66.9%) for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. With 50 total touchdowns, Young won not only the Heisman Award, but also the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien, and Manning awards.
One thing Young won’t have that other Alabama QBs have acquired, unfortunately, is a championship ring. But in spite of the Crimson Tide’s overall struggles in 2022, Young has comfortably been their best player. He has nearly 2,500 total yards and 22 total touchdowns through nine games, with just four interceptions. And time and time again in close outings, Young has been the one who’s kept his team competitive.
For a QB, working through adversity is an invaluable trait. And in a way, Young’s 2022 campaign has been so valuable — because it’s shown us that he can do this better than most, if not all, of the 2023 NFL Draft signal callers.
Bryce Young Scouting Report
The battle for QB1 in the 2023 NFL Draft is an intense showdown. In spite of his size, does Young have the necessary tools and intangible building blocks to take the crown?
Natural talent is always abundant in the top QB prospects. That’s certainly the case for Young. Young has high-level arm talent, consistently generates good velocity on throws, and has shown to push that velocity through all ranges. He has the pace to get passes quickly, especially in the short and intermediate ranges, and can maintain that pace on deep passes.
Young has a reasonably strong arm, but his arm elasticity is what truly generates appeal. The Alabama QB’s arm is very elastic, and he can throw from different arm angles while maintaining velocity generation. Moreover, he’s able to throw with easy velocity and accuracy off-platform. He’s a snappy, flexible thrower who can generate velocity from points of discomfort. Young can also actively adjust his arm angle to widen throwing windows, avoiding lurking rushers and deflection threats.
The arm talent is strong with Young, but his creation capacity — a near-generational quality of his — is by far his best trait. The Alabama QB is a quick-twitch athlete with excellent suddenness, stop-and-start ability, and elusiveness. He’s an amped-up, but controlled runner who halts and generates momentum on demand, causing defenders to lurch. He can levy devastating cuts in open field and extend running lanes for himself. He’s also very well-balanced between cuts, and instinctive when maneuvering away from contact. Going further, Young shows off great burst and good speed.
Young has the requisite athleticism to be an elite creation threat, but his creative instincts take his off-script game to an entirely different level. Young has an uncanny feel of where defenders are, and he can manipulate space to the highest degree, while also keeping his eyes up and aware of roaming receivers. Young’s ability to generate positive plays through adverse situations, as consistently as he does, is incredibly rare.
As a field general, Young shows promise as well. He’s shown to go through progressions and process leverages quickly after landing on successive reads. The Alabama QB can consistently anticipate breaks and allow receivers time and space to work with. He processes very quickly off-script as well. Young keeps his eyes up on the move, and with his uncanny full-field awareness when improvising, he always has options in mind. With this awareness and his creation capacity in tandem, Young’s very dangerous off-script.
In the pocket, Young can hold his eyes forward on the drop-back to freeze defenders, and at times, has shown to use eye manipulation. The Alabama QB mixes velocity and touch on his throws downfield with awesome proficiency. He’s also able to consistently lead his receivers upfield with velocity for run-after-catch. Even when obstructed by pressure, Young has shown to put the necessary mix of pace and touch on his throws. He’s a consistently precise passer who can lead WRs away from contact.
Navigating the pocket, Young has shown he can make subtle movements to maximize space and time, and extend opportunities. He senses pressure well, and can traverse gaps quickly when escaping contact and creating for himself. The Alabama QB can step up into open pockets to drive throws through windows, and he often uses his real estate when he has it. He’s also shown he can step up and stay cool and composed, as pressure loops around him.
Mechanically, Young has a corrective failsafe that allows him to place his front foot accurately with surprising consistency, even when his drop-back is sloppy. He uses his fast feet and snappy short-area athleticism to habitually correct his positioning. Young routinely gets excellent hip rotation, his release is fast and crisp, and he’s flexible across multiple launch angles. He also actively manipulates the trajectory of his passes by tilting his front shoulder situationally and has shown he can keep his shoulders level on rotation.
As a decision-maker, Young can work through progressions and land on his checkdowns, and he’s also fairly calculated and decisive when choosing risks to capitalize on. The Alabama QB has the wherewithal to throw the ball away when flushed out of the pocket and worked into a corner. In a similar vein, Young’s proven himself to be very tough and poised. He can stand in the pocket with pressure incoming and deliver tough throws amidst contact. He’s also willing to sell out for crucial gains.
Areas for Improvement
Young is shorter and lighter than average, and while he hasn’t had major durability concerns yet — despite being subjected to steady pressure in 2022 — it could potentially be a source of issues in the NFL. That size threshold may be Young’s most pressing issue in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, but there are other imperfections beyond that.
Young has a strong arm, but he doesn’t have elite arm strength. His velocity is good, but has a visible cap, and can be inconsistent. Young also operates with a lot of schemed plays and predetermined reads by design, and he has room to become a more independent processor. There are times when Young sticks to his first read too long, and he can be reliant on rhythm throws.
Conversely, Young could also be more patient at times and anticipate certain reads better. He’s shown growth with his anticipation in 2021 and has always displayed the necessary processing capacity. But overall, Young still has room to gain more experience and comfort with full-field reads and progression work.
Off-platform, Young’s accuracy and placement can be a bit more volatile, as his mechanics become more lopsided when rolling out. He sometimes abandons the pocket prematurely, eroding opportunities and creating unneeded chaos. Mechanically, Young could improve both during and at the conclusion of his drop-back. He sometimes releases right on the drop and throws off his back foot. This can tug his front shoulder up, forcing passes high.
Going further, Young at times appears lackadaisical on the drop and can be late to reset his eyes as a result. Similarly, he can be caught flat-footed, which can delay throws. Young could be more deliberate and precise with his drop-back footwork, as his staggered feet can lead to inconsistent throwing platforms.
Elsewhere, Young is sometimes too regimented with designed throws and tries to force passes even when options are covered up. Occasionally, he’ll also try to do too much when extending plays.
Current Draft Projection for Alabama QB Bryce Young
Entering the season, Young and C.J. Stroud were too close to call for the QB1 mantle. That remains the case today. Just as Stroud is an early first-round prospect and a potential candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, so too is Young. Being a quarterback, Young’s value is naturally driven up. But he’s also a passer with franchise-caliber tools, and an elite foundation to build his game around.
Young’s size will hang over his head throughout the process. He’s listed at 6’0″, 194 pounds, and could come in a bit smaller than that even. And his leaner frame suggests that he doesn’t have much room to add more mass. As a result, Young could fall outside several teams’ size thresholds. But teams who rule Young out on account of his size alone may come to regret it.
While Young can still continue to refine his game as an independent processor, he’s far more worthy of confidence than the average QB prospect. He’s unnaturally poised both in the pocket and in off-script situations, has rare instincts in adverse situations, and has hyper-elite creation capacity, which he can use to extend plays, nullify early wins by a defense, and drag his team out of trouble when they need it.
Even beyond his creation capacity, Young has more than enough arm talent to be a high-level starter, with strength and elasticity. He’s accurate and efficient on rhythm and timing plays, and has shown he can anticipate windows. And in structure, he’s shown he can work the pocket, go through progressions, and take plays when they come as much as he can create.
He’s already won the Heisman, but Young’s best football is still ahead. With his high-level creation ability and instincts, Young fits the mold of a modern franchise passer and has the potential to lead an NFL team to bountiful success.