Mel Kiper’s mock 1.0 for the 2023 NFL Draft came out Wednesday and Alabama’s star quarterback Bryce Young is a major talking point in the latest projection. The ESPN analyst tied Young to the No. 4 overall Indianapolis Colts, put Ohio State’s CJ Stroud ahead and let the Chicago Bears pick the Georgia defenseman Jalen Carter 1st place overall.
Kiper explained that size could be a factor in why Young doesn’t call his name on the first pick.
“He’s got to be a bottom line outlier,” Kiper said on Get Up this week. “I’ve spoken to a lot of teams and they’re like, ‘We love Bryce Young.’ Forget the altitude. The height doesn’t matter. It’s the 185, 190 (lbs) – the weight. Can he withstand pro-level punishment? We’ve never had that in the upper part of the first lap. … Great quarterback, phenomenal, he does whatever you want. Now he doesn’t have the big time arm or the 4.5 gears. But Bryce Young would be No. 1 overall, maybe even for the Chicago Bears even though they did Justin Fields if he were bigger. Size is a huge factor working against him.”
In his last game in an Alabama uniform, Young completed 15 of 21 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns. He finished his collegiate career with 8,356 passing yards and 80 through-air touchdowns. He follows only Tua Tagovailoa (87) on the school’s career passing touchdowns list and only AJ McCarron (9,019) in passing yards. Young holds the Tide records for most passing yards (4,872), passing touchdowns (47), and total touchdowns (50) in a season when he became the program’s first Heisman-winning quarterback for the 2021 season.
The former Heisman Trophy winner helped the Crimson Tide end the 2022 season with an 11-2 win over Big 12 champion Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama ended the season on a four-game winning streak.
Young, a former five-star contender from Santa Ana, Calif. Mater Dei, is leaving Alabama for 8,356 yards and 80 touchdowns in three seasons, two of them as a full-time starter on the Crimson Tide. The young quarterback led Alabama to an SEC title and a national championship game appearance in 2021, and won the Heisman that same season. The Crimson Tide won 11 games in 2022 but missed the SEC title game and the playoffs overall.
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Only twice has the SEC produced two first-round picks at quarterback in a single draft — in 2020 and 1952 — and has a chance to flex three or more after recent mock drafts this spring. Beyond the SEC, Stroud waited until the last day to announce his entry, and he will battle the passers at the top of the first round for elite billing.
Dean Straka contributed to this report.