TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young had the full attention of the NFL at the school’s Pro Day on Thursday.
All 32 teams were present, with 12 general managers and 10 head coaches on hand.
Young, who didn’t throw at the NFL scouting combine, was sharp and accurate during his scripted workout. He had one deep ball hit the top of the indoor facility, but he rebounded nicely.
“I don’t have an argument,” Young said about his bid to be the player selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft. “I try to be myself. I wanted to present myself in the best light. The rest of it is out of my control. Where I’m picked. Who picks me. I’ll be grateful for whatever team picks me.”
Young went to dinner with several representatives of the Carolina Panthers, who own the No. 1 overall pick.
“It was big,” Young said. “This was a huge opportunity.”
Young had a plan for his passes.
“I just wanted to show my diversity,” Young said. “We had some intermediate stuff, some short stuff. On platform and off platform. Some under-center stuff as well, which hasn’t shown up on my film as much. I wanted to show that I was comfortable doing that. I really wanted to check all of the boxes.”
The ball that hit the ceiling didn’t rattle him.
“Sometimes in football stuff does not go according to plan, and you’ve got to put that rep behind you,” Young said. “You go on to the next one.”
The Falcons hold the eighth pick in the draft. They would have to trade up to land Young.
“Bryce is somebody that a lot of people are interested in,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Hopefully he’ll be the first pick in the draft. Nobody knows that for sure. I don’t think anybody disagrees that he’s one of the outstanding players in this draft. I guess it’s just about what your needs are or your particular feeling maybe about him.”
Saban believes that Young should be selected No. 1 overall.
“Just his production, his consistency in performance and his instinctive ability to play the position,” Saban said. “The kind of person he is in terms (of) how he prepares and what he does. There is really no negatives. The only negative that anybody could bring is what is his height.”
Young was measured a shade over 5-foot-10 at the combine.
“Drew Brees was always my biggest nemesis,” Saban said. “Whether I was at Michigan State and he was at Purdue or whether I was in the NFL. He was 5-11 and something. I don’t think it’s an issue. It wasn’t an issue in college.”
If the Panthers don’t take Young, he’ll likely go to the Houston Texans with the second pick. He’ll have a chance to start immediately.
“I think Bryce is capable of doing that,” Saban said.
Young doesn’t have a preference.
“I’m going to give my all to whatever team it is that takes me,” Young said. “It’s my dream to play in the NFL.”
Young is being compared with Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray because of his size. Murray went No. 1 overall in the 2019 draft. SiriusXM NFL radio analyst Charlie Weis also likens Young to Brees.
“I don’t think he’s too short to play quarterback,” Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. said.
Up next for Young is visits and private workouts with teams.
“I’m going to keep working my hardest to improve myself at the position,” Young said. “I’m confident in myself. I know what I can do. I’m just excited to be at the next level.”
Young finished his career ranked first in single-season passing yards (4,872), single-season passing touchdowns (47) and five-touchdown passing games (5). He finished second in career passing yards with 8,356.
“My job isn’t to necessarily prove anything,” Young said. “For me, it’s to try to explain all the things that I see to all the coaches, all the decision-makers, to express myself and talk about how I see the game, my experiences in the past.”
Young, who’s from Pasadena, Calif., believes he can stand on his record.
“I speak my truth,” Young said. “I make sure I explain how I play the game, how I see the game, my process, how I’m able to get through things.”
Young plans to explain the film.
“It’s just talking ball, X’s and O’s,” Young said. “I’ve been around so many great football minds in these meetings ... being able to talk about myself and see how they run their offense and be able to learn from that.”
Young likes to point out that he played in a pro-style offense at Alabama under coordinator Bill O’Brien.
“I feel like there’s a good amount of application from play-calls to protections to run game,” Young said. “I’ve been blessed to be in the system that I have. I think it translates pretty well to the next level. Obviously, there’s going to be stuff I’m going to learn. I’m excited to do that. I have a really good foundation.”
Young also talked to former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones about this pre-draft process.
“I talked to a good amount of guys to prepare myself as much as I can for the next level and for this process,” Young said. “I was talking to Mac (recently). He gave me a lot of great advice about how to carry yourself, things that he’s learned from the years there (in New England).”
Young said he’s a team-first quarterback.
“For me, I make sure that I do whatever I feel like is best for the team,” Young said. “I try to make efficient decisions and after every (play) ... try to make sure I’m playing the most efficiently for the team.”
Young is not a big social-media guy.
“I’m grateful for everyone’s opinions, for the media,” Young said. “I’m not really on social media that much, not really watching too much about me. I respect everyone’s opinions, but I focus on what I can control. I take the advice and the direction of the people I trust, and the people at the next level.”
Will Anderson a throwback
Alabama defensive end Anderson, a former AJC Super 11 pick from Dutchtown High, did not work out. He stood by his combine numbers.
He also has been projected to be drafted in the top five.
“He’s got size,” Saban said. “He’s got great ability. He’s a very good pass rusher. But you’re talking about a guy who’s a great person. He has throwback competitive character in terms of toughness, work ethic. Great leadership. He’s done all the things you’d want any player on your team to do, to play winning football.”
Anderson liked being called a throwback.
“It probably means that I could play with some of those older teams he had,” Anderson said. “That shows the type of mentality that they have here at Alabama.”
Jahmyr Gibbs’ workout
Former Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who transferred to Alabama for his last collegiate season, had a strong workout. He looked fluid in agility drills.
He had a dropped pass coming out of the backfield but made up for it with a nice catch on a wheel route on a pinpoint pass from Young.
Tight end Cam Latu and defensive back Eli Ricks were the only players to run the 40-yard dash. Young said he would run it at private workouts if teams request him to do so.
Overall 15 players
The Crimson Tide had 15 players participate in the Pro Day, including defensive back Brian Branch of Sandy Creek High.
Saban said most of the NFL teams want to look at Branch as a safety.