2023 mock NFL Draft 3.0: Final 11th-hour edition (with trades)

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide
Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

player. 829. . Quarterback. Crimson Tide . Bryce Young. 1

On the clock: Pick No. 1: Carolina Panthers – Bryce Young, Quarterback, Alabama

Mock Draft 1.0 – Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama (Chicago Bears)
Mock Draft 2.0 – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (Carolina Panthers)

This pick will go down to Bryce Young vs. C.J. Stroud. While some prefer the prototypical profile of the latter, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is supposedly infatuated with the creativity of the former.

This season, Young completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,328 yards, 32 touchdowns and five interceptions while also picking up four touchdowns on the ground as well. He’s an excellent passer, but he really shines when he has to improvise on the field, and projects as a superior version of Kyler Murray.

The one concern about Young is his size and whether or not he can hold up to the physicality of NFL football. Young measured in shorter than listed at Alabama, coming in at 5-foot-10 1/8 and 204 pounds at the NFL Combine. He would actually be smaller than the comparable Murray, with the Arizona Cardinals quarterback at the exact same height but weighing 208 pounds when he was drafted in 2019.

The height isn’t a problem whatsoever as he’s able to make throws despite being shorter than most teams would want, but his slight frame may not be able to hold out physically. It’ll be paramount for the Panthers to make sure he’s protected and not constantly running for his life.

Young would be on par with Trevor Lawrence and Andrew Luck as the best quarterback prospect in recent memory when you take into account his skills. He’s freakishly good with his legs but isn’t overreliant on using them. He has one of the best football minds in the draft, calmly diagnosing defenses and working through progressions. He doesn’t have the cannon of Anthony Richardson or Will Levis in this class, but he still puts plenty of zip on his throws along with showing the touch to drop them into tight windows.

Physical questions aside, there’s no question that Bryce Young is an exceptional prospect who loves football and can command the Panthers offense. As long as he’s kept upright, he’s a safe pick to be a franchise quarterback.