The Carolina Panthers may have found their next franchise quarterback after selecting Bryce Young with the first pick in the NFL Draft.
Young started two seasons at Alabama, where he won a Heisman and finished second in program history in passing yards ( 8,356) and passing touchdowns (80), according to NCAA.com.
Why it matters: The last time the Panthers had the first overall pick, in 2011, they drafted a brash, 6-foot-5 quarterback out of Auburn University named Cam Newton, who went on to become league MVP and lead the team to a Super Bowl.
The Panthers have struggled to find a long-term answer at quarterback since 2019, when Newton’s first stint with the team ended. Since then, the team has played at least six different quarterbacks — including Newton for a brief second run — but none found consistent success.
Desperate for a solution, the Panthers acquired the top pick in this year’s draft in March from the Chicago Bears, trading away the ninth and 63rd pick in this year’s draft, a first-round pick from next year’s draft, a second-round in 2025 and star receiver D.J. Moore. This move put the Panthers in the best position to secure a top-rated quarterback to pair with new head coach Frank Reich.
The Panthers kept quiet about who they’d select with the first pick. Young said he wasn’t informed of the team’s intention to draft him until the pick was made official.
In a press conference following the pick, Reich told reporters that Young was their guy all along but was “committed to the process” of evaluating all the possible prospects.
The team also scouted and interviewed Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
Young’s size — he stands around 5-foot-9 and weighs 205 pounds — was the biggest concern for evaluators and analysts throughout the draft process.
For Panthers brass, his size wasn’t much of a concern, Reich said.
Reich said Young’s knowledge of the game and maturity is what impressed coaches and management during their pre-draft meetings. Young’s collegiate play provided more than enough reason for why he deserved to be the top pick, he said.
“It wasn’t much convincing,” Reich said. “When you watch the tape, Bryce Young is the best player.”
Hundreds of fans gathered in the rain inside a wet Bank of America Stadium for the Panthers Draft Day party.
“Bryce Young” was a popular answer among Panthers fans when asked by QCity Metro before the draft who they’d want the team to select with the first pick.
“He is a proven winner,” Tyler Davis said, adding that other quarterbacks in the draft weren’t as impressive as the Heisman trophy winner.
Davis said he believes the team can make the Super Bowl within the next four years with Young at the helm of the offense.
“With who they brought in [this offseason], I think they’ve got what it takes,” he said.
Connor Johnson said he, too, was sold on Young after watching him play in college.
“He’s got the most poise in the pocket, and he’s shown the most promising going into the league,” he said.
Johnson said that if the offensive line protects Young, he’ll have success in Carolina.
Izyk Redding said he doesn’t think Young’s size will impact his play in the NFL: “I know he’s short, but in today’s league, you can’t really touch the quarterback, so I don’t think [size] really matter,” he said.
Redding added: “I trust the [Panthers] staff to be able to get us there.”