Pros and cons of Panthers selecting Bryce Young over CJ Stroud

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young. (Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports)
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young. (Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Panthers are ready to make Bryce Young the face of their franchise. Here’s the case for Carolina going with him over CJ Stroud. 

No one can criticize the Carolina Panthers for failing to scout every quarterback in this year’s draft class. Head coach Frank Reich and the rest of the higher-ups in Carolina have spent a lot of time and energy on every potential signal-caller that could go at No. 1 overall.

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the Panthers’ brain trust has finally come to a unanimous decision. Bryce Young will be the player trusted to turn the Panthers into a perennial championship contender. The question now becomes whether or not Carolina made the right choice in opting for Young over CJ Stroud.

The case for Bryce Young

Young has some exceptional qualities that make him a great fit for Reich’s offense. He’s an elite processor of opposing coverages who can get rid of the ball quickly from the pocket. The Panthers’ offensive staff can envision Young reading defenses at an elite level early in his professional career.

The other truly elite quality that Young possesses is his accuracy. He doesn’t just put throws in the neighborhood of his pass catchers. His college tape shows him putting the ball in the perfect position for his receivers to produce yards after the catch. That kind of pinpoint placement will endear him to his wideouts at the pro level.

Young’s intellect and accuracy make him a good bet to experience early success in Carolina. The Panthers have an offensive line that should be able to give him a clean pocket to work from the majority of the time. Carolina fans should be excited about their new quarterback’s arm and mind. Young has been nitpicked throughout the pre-draft process but there’s no doubt he’s an elite quarterback prospect.

The case against Bryce Young

Fans who saw Alabama play a lot last season might be surprised that his mobility wasn’t listed as a plus for him as a prospect. While he does have good agility, the reality is that his lack of bulk means he shouldn’t scramble and take hits at the NFL level unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Young isn’t just on the small side. He weighed in at 204 pounds at the Combine which is likely well north of where his true playing weight will be. No quarterback who checked in at under 207 pounds has ever been selected in the first round. Young missed time last season at Alabama after taking big hits and that weakness will only be exacerbated in the pros.

Young also doesn’t have the sort of elite arm strength that’s typically present with No. 1 overall picks. He’s got enough juice to make most of the throws in Reich’s playbook, but he doesn’t have the same zip on the outside as someone like Stroud. The Panthers will need to tailor their offensive philosophy to overcome some of Young’s physical deficiencies.

Are the Panthers making the right call?

Young has elite polish and is a relatively safe choice to be a top-10 starter after he adjusts to the rigors of NFL life. The chances of him ever cracking the top five are pretty remote. It’s reasonable to say Young has a lower ceiling than Stroud and Florida passer Anthony Richardson.

The Panthers have been in the wilderness at the quarterback position since Cam Newton lost his star power. They’re one team that can justify taking a quarterback that will likely settle in as an above-average starter with the No. 1 pick. Going with Stroud might have been a bigger swing for a superstar, but Young has more than enough qualities to justify Carolina taking him No. 1.

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