INDIANAPOLIS – Bryce Young smiled and spoke his truth. The former Alabama star accepts he’s far from the so-called prototypical NFL quarterback when it comes to certain measurables, but he also gives off the vibe that it’s someone else’s problem.
“Yeah, I’ve been this size, with all due respect, my whole life,” Young told reporters Friday morning at the NFL’s scouting combine.
Quick, somebody get a tape measure and a scale.
Young, whose resume includes a Heisman Trophy, a 23-4 record as a starter while struggling in college football’s most competitive conference and 80 TD passes, was listed last season at 6-0 and 194 pounds.
And there are some NFL scouts who suspect that the listed weight was too much.
“I know who I am,” Young said. “I know what I can do. That’s fair to me. Everyone can guess and ask all the questions. I will control what I can control.”
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The buzz about Young’s weight (greater than his height) fuels an intriguing subplot on the NFL draft runway. He is in the mix to be the no. 1 overall, which isn’t too much considering his excellence at the top position in the game. Although the Chicago Bears, who hold the first pick, have young, explosive running back Justin Fields, they have announced they are open to offers in a year when four of the top 10 picks are projected to be running backs.
It’s also understandable that whichever quarterback-needy team goes all-in on Young — most notably the Houston Texans, who pick second, and the Indianapolis Colts, who currently own the fourth pick — will resist any desire to trip them up. measurable.
The official weigh-in will take place on Saturday morning, and Young claims he’s put on a few pounds in recent weeks. “I was around the 200-pound range,” he said.
How important is that? Two of the biggest busts in NFL draft history — JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf — were big, strong running backs, but they proved to be lacking in intangibles. Drew Brees, on the other hand, had a Hall of Fame career at 6-0 and 209 pounds. Russell Wilson is listed at 5-11, 215. Kyler Murray is 5-10, 207.
“They come in all shapes and sizes,” Colts GM Chris Ballard said this week when asked to identify the qualities he looks for in a quarterback.
Not coincidentally, Ballard began his response by asking, “The one who wins?”
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Still, given the physical nature of football and the tendency of NFL teams to go so deep with their pre-draft analysis, questions about Young’s size are likely to linger for some time. After all, not all 200-pounders are created equal when it comes to endurance.
Someone somewhere is probably wondering if the sprained AC joint Young suffered last season (and is now fully healed, he claimed) is related to his lighter frame. On the other hand, we’ve seen many 300-pounders go down in a heap with various injuries. That’s football. Risk is inherent.
If size is the only drawback for a running back who was named college football’s 2021 player of the year and otherwise survived, Young is way ahead of the curve.
Let Frank Reich, the new Carolina Panthers coach and former quarterback, provide a quick assessment of the latest NFL-bound QB drafted by Nick Saban.
“Very intelligent, very fast processor, very ready,” Reich said. “You know, playmaker. It checks a lot of boxes. No moment is too big for him. … He seems like a great young man. Very impressive.”
When asked the question of size, Reich threw out the names of Brees and Wilson. Young, he added, deserved this high status that projects him to the top of the draft.
“Size aside, I think he’s the most skilled guy, the most technically sound guy and the most fun to watch,” NFL analyst Steve Mariucci told USA TODAY Sports.
Perhaps the position—in a game where players are getting faster and faster—will continue to evolve to the point where questions of such magnitude don’t exist at all. The lack of height can be a hindrance for a shorter quarterback who throws from the pocket with tall, long-armed passers that block passing windows. Murray, for example, seems to have had too many deflected passes at the line of scrimmage.
Still, as Mariucci pointed out, Young’s chances of succeeding in the NFL are much better than they would have been a generation ago. It’s a different game, with all the offensive concepts that have spread the field and defined the college game for years now also becoming the NFL standard.
“The way they play, with the shotgun, the RPOs and the zone reads,” Mariucci said, “that allows a guy like that to thrive.”
Young won’t jump at everything, instead opting to wait until Alabama’s pro day, but he came to town ready to answer the elephant in the room question when he meets with teams. Someone asked Young how he answers questions from teams about his size.
“I speak my truth,” he said.
However, he sounded more eager for a two-way exchange that has nothing to do with size.
“I make sure to explain how I play the game, how I see the game, my process, how I can go through things,” he said. “Obviously, there is definitely a movie. It’s just a story, X’s and O’s. I met so many great football minds at these meetings. It’s an opportunity to talk about myself and see how they run the offense and learn from it.”
That is an important message in itself. Regardless of the noise about the size, he gives the impression that he just rolls like he breaks the protective frame on the throw.
The biggest misconception about his game? No, he didn’t bite the bait and make it about the size.
“To be honest, I don’t really know too much out there,” he insisted. “I am grateful to everyone for their opinion, the media. I’m not on social media that much, they don’t see too much about me. I respect everyone’s opinion, but I focus on what I can control. I take advice and guidance from people I trust and people at the next level.”
And if everything works out at the next level, Young could ultimately be viewed in a different light as an NFL heavyweight.
Follow Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY Sports on Twitter @JarrettBell.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bryce Young’s weight and height shouldn’t matter to NFL teams