Obscure play from freshman year sold Frank Reich on Bryce Young

University of Tennessee vs University of Alabama
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Last week, Panthers G.M. Scott Fitterer shared with #PFTPM the moment at which he became convinced that quarterback Bryce Young was the right choice at No. 1. Coach Frank Reich did the same in comments to Peter King for his Football Morning in America column, pointing to a different interaction.

For Fitterer, the kicker happened during Young’s “30 visit” to Carolina, and it sprang from  the manner in which Young handled himself at dinner with representatives of the team the night before a Pro Day workout. For Reich, it came from the manner in which Young handled an obscure, garbage-time play during his freshman year at Alabama, when he was only 19 years old.

Peter’s column sets the stage and walks through the play, with video of it from two different angles. Put simply, Young spotted the need for a shift in protection to the left before the snap, and he calmly did it.

“Bryce right there called a five-man slide, which is an incredibly smart and incredibly risky call,” Reich told King. “If you’re going to call a five-man slide, you have to be 100 percent sure you can bring that [right] tackle over. Because if you bring him and that [left defensive] end comes, you’re in trouble. And just watch the play — how smooth the call is, how sure he is. He saw overload pressure to his left, he figured he wasn’t getting pressure to his right, he had the line all move left to compensate — and he even got the back to cover a blitzer. Just look how easy he made it look.”

Why would something like that at the end of a game the Crimson Tide led 48-17 over Tennessee make a difference to an NFL head coach?

“That play just confirmed everything we were thinking and already know,” Reich told King. “Just confirmed the level of football IQ he has that’s on par with Peyton [Manning], [Matt] Ryan, [Philip] Rivers, [Andrew] Luck. I’m telling you: There are quarterbacks in the NFL who haven’t done what he did right there — and he did it easily in his true freshman year in college. To have the confidence to make that call for Alabama in his second college game. Unreal.”

That’s the kind of brain power that makes up for limited height and weight. It underscores the confidence the team has that Young will work within the boundaries of his size, finding throwing lanes among the linemen and getting rid of the ball before taking a big hit. And it persuaded Reich that they got the right person when they picked Bryce Young.

3 responses to “Obscure play from freshman year sold Frank Reich on Bryce Young

  1. Who is he trying to convince? They already picked him.

  2. We coaches try to do a lot of self convincing like this publicly, it’s a bad look. Patting yourself on the back after a draft is dumb.

  3. I’m sorry, with all due deference to Bryce Young, a 5-10 QB is not going to take your team very far in the NFL. The ceiling for Young is going to be a middle of the pack QB, like Kyler Murray. I have nothing against Young, but I felt bad for Carolina fans when the Panthers picked him No. 1 overall after giving up so much to acquire that pick. I’m not sure I really liked any of the QBs in this draft. If I were a GM/HC of a QB needy team with a high draft pick, I might’ve passed on this year’s class altogether. But I certainly would not have drafted a 5-10 QB after giving up so much to move into the top spot.

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