Bryce Young’s height and stature prompt lively debate over Alabama QB landing spot

Let the NFL draft debates begin now that the 2023 decision deadline has passed. And Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is one of the focal points. The former five-star nominee shone during his stint for Nick Saban – Young won the 2021 Heisman Trophy after leading the Crimson Tide to an SEC title – but Young’s height and physique have now led some draft pundits to to discuss his NFL potential.

ESPN NFL Draft Experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay offered their thoughts on Young and potential concerns, and Young’s weight gives Kiper pause. Kiper said he expects this aspect of the Alabama signal caller to be discussed regularly by the time the 2023 NFL draft begins in April.

“Bryce Young from Alabama – the great processor, the accuracy throwing the football, that magical way he goes about his business as a true point guard, drawing comparisons to Steph Curry with the way he goes about his business , and this size. We talk about breakaways and we talk about Russell Wilson and what he did as a third-round pick, or let’s say a Kyler Murray who became No. 1 overall, height doesn’t matter anymore,” Kiper said in First Draft Podcast. “Well, we’re not worried about 5-11. We worry about what Bryce Young is at 180, 185 – that height, that build, that lack. Can he physically hold his own in the NFL? I think that will be something that we will discuss during the process.”

Kiper went on to say that despite an overwhelming season for the Wildcats, Kentucky quarterback Will Levis will be viewed with more affection by veteran NFL draft analysts in 2022. Kiper argued that all of Levis’ battles in 2022 reflected external circumstances in Lexington rather than Levis’ abilities. The only joker in the equation regarding Young is how he fares on the pro day in Alabama.

“Will Levis has been beaten up in Kentucky all year — most of the year — with his foot, ankle, shoulder, all those issues and the offensive line,” Kiper said. “The return was not there in the first four games. The receiving core lost to the NFL with Wan’Dale Robinson. Will Levis, for me – I think that’s going to happen, Todd: Kind of an old guard that’s going to be what I’m a part of, Todd, is Will Levis. I said this back in September, I’m Will Levis. The analytics, the young people and all of that will be on Bryce Young. And I’ll go wait I’ll wait it out, Todd.

“For me, there is no rush to make a judgment here. I’ve always said pro days are a waste of time. But I think Bryce Young’s pro tag will be important just to see how he looks on that field throw football. You’ll say, “Hey, you’re short, you’re not short.” Bryce Young is what, 5-11 He’s only about 180, 185. That’s going to be something everyone has to consider because we’ve never had that in the NFL draft — a quarterback that size is called maybe the overall number 1.”

However, McShay took a different approach with Young. McShay said immeasurable factors for Young — namely, the passion for the game he showed in Alabama — are something that can win the day when it comes to his NFL draft stocks. McShay also argued that with the game of football evolving, Young may just be the kind of players teams want now, as opposed to a more traditional build with Levis.

“Listen, I hear you,” McShay said to Kiper. “And I was in Tuscaloosa in October and I covered his game against Mississippi State and he said he’s up to 196 and he plans to be over 200 by pro day and the combine. He’s a slim guy. I understand. If you’re going to talk about one negative with Bryce Young, it’s his height — can he compete in the NFL? Will it be like Tua Tagovailoa where you’re always worried, ‘Will he be there at the end of the season?’ I get it, but this guy is special. Bryce Young is so different from any other quarterback I’ve seen. And, listen, Will Levis — from his character, his toughness, his strong physique, his mobility, his arm strength — he’s got everything you’re looking for as an old-guard judge. As a new guard evaluator – and I know I’m 45, but I’m still the young man in this equation, right? – I see (Young) as the next generation guy.

“He loves the game. He’s so passionate about it. He’s such a great teammate. He’s intelligent. He processes quickly. But the most important thing about his game is the ability to feel pressure, understand where it’s coming from and just dealing with it. You see it. Steph Curry is perfect. I was on the GameDay bus with Kirk Herbstreit and we were talking about like, ‘He’s Steph Curry from college football and he’s going to be in the NFL.’ Throw those measurable stats away. He’ll just find a way to avoid contact and always be able to create and make the play that most quarterbacks can’t. That’s why I have Bryce Young as my #1 quarterback. I have Levis at No. 3. I’ve got Ohio State’s CJ Stroud at No. 2. And Anthony Richardson — the most talented quarterback in the group, but the least prepared of all those quarterbacks — at No. 4.”

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The NFL Draft runs April 27-29 in Kansas City, Mo.

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