‘Bryce Young is the best player’: Panthers head coach, general manager discuss top pick
Carolina brass echoed a sense of “conviction” when deciding on No. 1 draft pick.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Within minutes of making the first pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Carolina Panthers brass spoke to the media regarding the franchise’s decision to go with Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.
Based on the comments of general manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Frank Reich, it was clear to them that Young was the right choice for Carolina.
“There were lots of highlight plays, there were so many, he’s had such a prolific career, and he makes all the plays,” Reich said. “Every kind of play you want to see a quarterback make. Situationally, in the big moments, he makes the little throws, big throws, they’re all over the tape.”
Fitterer echoed that same “conviction,” as he called it.
“Throughout the process, he checked every box we had,” he said. “We tested him, we talked to him, we had dinner with him. Every time we met with him we were more and more convicted.”
Panthers coaches and fans hope that those sentiments come to fruition, that Young becomes the answer to the team’s quarterback woes that have held the franchise back for several seasons now.
Owner David Tepper is hoping for the same. Since he bought the organization in 2018, Carolina has gone through Cam Newton twice at the position, along with a host of others, including Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield.
“There’s no sure thing,” Tepper said following the pick. “We thought this guy [Bryce Young] had the highest probability of winning Super Bowls...and you want to win Super Bowls.”
The Panthers had long been expected to choose between Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, with the biggest knock on Young being his small stature.
Listed at 5 feet, 10 inches tall and just under 200 pounds, he becomes the smallest quarterback in the league.
“There’s a lot said about size. At the end of the day there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Reich said. “We’re coaches, we’re scouts, we watch the tape, and when you watch the tape, Bryce Young is the best player.”
Despite the coaching staff’s obvious affinity for Young, Reich said the starting job won’t be his on Day 1.
“He’ll have to earn it,” Reich said. “We’ll know when the right time is, it will be a decision that Scott and I and the coaching staff will continue to look at...I just want him to come in and learn the offense and not worry about stepping into the limelight…when we step out onto the field the first time, he’ll be in that number-two spot and then we’ll just progress from there.”
Carolina signed veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton this offseason, providing Young with a proven mentor, capable of steering the Panthers’ offense until the rookie is ready to take the reigns.
Young’s first on-field action will come in mid-May when the Panthers hold rookie minicamp. The rest of the team will gather shortly after at the end of May for voluntary OTAs.
Related: Carolina Panthers select Alabama’s Bryce Young with top pick in 2023 NFL Draft
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