This series will feature the top NFL Draft prospects with insight from the beat reporters that covered them in college. This article is just a preview of the full interview which can be heard on the Deep Slant podcast.
Name: Bryce Young
Height/Weight: 6-0, 194
Hometown: Pasadena, California
(Below is a portion of Deepi Sidhu's interview with Charlie Potter, Alabama football beat reporter for 24/7 Sports.)
Sidhu: What is his biggest asset that you think sets Bryce Young apart from other quarterbacks in the draft class?
Potter: He can make special things happen. You know, we saw the last two seasons, his two years as a starter really during the Saban era is probably the the time that we've seen a quarterback kind of shoulder the load the most. I know Texans fans are familiar with John Metchie and fans got to see a glimpse of Jameson Williams a little bit this past season in NFL but those guys were banged up at times in 2021 when Bryce won the Heisman. They were gone this past season and Alabama had some young guys have to step up at the position. So more so than ever, at least during the Nick Saban era, the quarterback had to make plays on the play-in and play-out basis really and Bryce did that.
You can look back at certain moments. The Auburn game two years ago whenever he led a comeback drive and won that game in overtime. Heck, even the Tennessee game this year, I know Alabama lost that. But you know, Bryce is coming off that shoulder injury and he just has a remarkable performance to keep them in that game. So he's just a guy that can make plays on a consistent basis. I know that's very vague. There's some nuances and intricacies of what he brings to the table, but he's just a player, he's a playmaker. He's a guy that he's going to say the right things in terms of, he gives credit to his teammates and stuff like that, but Alabama's offense wouldn't have been the same without No. 9 The past two seasons and I think there's a reason that he's a guy that you mentioned is being discussed for the top overall pick in this draft.
Sidhu: What do you think of the chatter about his size at six feet tall and 194 pounds? You've watched him throughout his career at Alabama. Do you think too much is made of it, or do you think there is something there as far as what his transition might be like and his durability in the NFL?
Potter: You look at the year that he won the Heisman Trophy, Alabama's offensive line gave up 41 sacks in 2021 so he was getting hit a lot and didn't really have any issues with that. And again, that's a year that he literally rewrote Alabama's record book from a passing standpoint. He is short. I'll be interested to see what he measures in it at the Combine and maybe Alabama's Pro Day. But he is a guy that when you watch him play, you don't really think about that. Now, he is elusive, he can move. It's not like he disappears behind the mountain of men that Alabama has on this offensive line. He's a guy that uses his size to an advantage sometimes with his ability to move the sticks with his legs.
It will be interesting to see what happens from that standpoint come Combine time and things like that. But I haven't thought it has been any kind of knock on his game in his time at Alabama, and it hasn't really been something that's been discussed up until he made the decision to turn pro. Like that wasn't a talking point or something that came up because it was never an issue with his game in college.
Sidhu: Other than playing in a national championship and hoisting a trophy, he had about as good of an ending as you could want for a college player. Spectacular Sugar Bowl performance, five touchdowns, he earned an MVP. Was that enough to really solidify him as the No. 1 overall pick?
Potter: I don't think one performance really does that. For him to choose to play in that Sugar Bowl, which you hate to say it, I hate that it's even a narrative, but those get deemed meaningless games because of the College Football Playoff. For him and Will Anderson and some of the other guys that are going to be top guys taken in the draft, for them to choose to play, I think says a lot about their character. For him to go out there and not just go through the motions but to really play well, he had five touchdown passes in that game. He only attempted 21 passes so he was very efficient and effective and then for him to get that curtain call that he deserves as a player was a special moment. I know a lot of the his teammates, guys like Willie Anderson who spoke with him at the podium, just talked about what he's meant to them as a teammate. So it was very fitting.
But no, I think before that, he's a guy that was very much so in the mix for the No. 1 pick because, like I said, he's a special player that makes special plays happen. You know, I think Kansas State's a good team. They obviously beat TCU in the Big 12 championship. He's a guy that I think his career really speaks for itself and that really cemented him as a special, special player. But I don't know if it really did anything to really solidify his spot. I think he was very much in that conversation before that.
Sidhu: I have to say, I've really enjoyed some of his commercials, particularly the Dr. Pepper ones. I think he's fantastic actor. What can you tell us about his personality, what he's like off the field?
Potter: You're right with the commercials. He's charismatic. I think he can definitely be the face of the franchise given what he does on the field, but how he carries himself off of it. I think that has a lot to do with his upbringing. It has a lot to do with his faith. It has a lot to do with just him as a person. And he's a really good dude. He's cool, dude. Just from a PR standpoint, I think any organization would be happy to have him in the building because you're not going to have to worry about Bryce. And heck, if you need a commercial like you said, go grab Bryce. He's probably willing to do it and he's going to knock it out of the park.