The first overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft has high expectations from everyone watching, but also himself. The Heisman winner had a very productive college career at Alabama under Nick Saban, setting himself up for success at the pro level.
He joins a Carolina team with an entirely restructured staff and many high-level players on offense, as well as a stout defensive front. New Head Coach Frank Reich is known around the league as a “quarterback whisperer,” along with 16-year NFL veteran quarterback turned coach Josh McCown. The pieces seem to be there for Young to perform. It is just a matter of game planning correctly and trusting key veterans like Adam Thielen and Miles Sanders.
Evaluating Bryce Young’s Preseason Play
Bryce Young 2023 Preseason Stats:
This stat line doesn’t jump off the screen necessarily, but Young played under ten total drives in three preseason games as Reich and Co. want to make sure the rookie stays healthy. Young was smart with the ball, posting zero turnovers, and most of his incompletions were receiver errors.
While it may not show on paper, his overall contribution to the team’s efficiency must not go unnoticed. He was calm and collected in the pocket, able to take the hits and get right back up to continue the drive, which is exactly what you are looking for in a young quarterback. He calmly ran through his progressions in the pocket and looked confident with each decision he made, regardless of the outcome.
His connections with his receivers grew as the preseason continued, and by week three of the preseason, he was able to connect on some deep shots, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen in the corner of the end zone at the end of his second drive. On his first drive, he led the offense down the field for a manageable field goal after a sack pushed them out of an obtainable first down.
The Best is Yet to Come
In the prior two games, Young played sparingly, only throwing six times in both of the games. Reich had stated that the team would be running “vanilla” plays to not give up the true identity of their offense. This hindered Young in terms of showing the fans what he could do on the field, but Young was efficient and spread the ball out well to his playmakers. He scanned downfield for the right decision, not the most beneficial one for him.
Out of the top three quarterbacks picked in the draft, Young was the only one not to throw an interception or have a turnover of any kind throughout the preseason. He was sacked a few times in the three games, but it showed his durability more than anything, and his ability to take the hits proved that his height doesn’t affect his game. His confidence in the pocket and ability to deliver the ball to his receivers also contributed to shooting down the idea that Young wouldn’t be able to perform at the professional level because of his height and weight.
Carolina’s New QB1
Young now looks to the regular season with the same expectations, but the fans feel more confident in their first overall pick since Cam Newton in 2011 after seeing his final preseason game performance. Young has all the tools to perform at the highest level and to join the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the league.
He has been “co-signed” by other premium quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, who believes he will become the premier talent at the position. All the pieces are there for Young to succeed and with the coaching staff surrounding him as he heads into Year One.
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