Will size hurt Heisman-winning QB’s NFL draft stock?

Is Bryce Young tall enough? Is he big enough?  

Both those questions relate to size, but they are very different matters to the NFL scouting community, as the former Alabama quarterback will learn all too well over the next few months.

It’s hard to pick apart the game of a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback with Young’s track record for success in college, but some pro team is going to invest a very high first-round draft pick in him, and with that comes an incredible amount of scrutiny. The success or failure of players picked as early as Young will be picked can be the difference between a contract extension and a pink slip for NFL general managers.

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Young’s height, and whatever bias against short quarterbacks might still remain in a league that’s increasingly opened its doors to them for quite a few years now, will be debated ad nauseum in the lead-up to the 2023 NFL draft. But of greater concern for NFL clubs could be his slim frame. Draft analyst Lance Zierlein exhaustively grades more than 500 draft prospects every year for NFL Media, and on Friday he conducted a live YouTube tape evaluation of Young. Zierlein believes Young’s height will measure between 5-10½ and 5-11 at the NFL Scouting Combine next month, which, for an NFL quarterback, would be extra-short. 

But for Zierlein, it’s not the height that clubs might find concerning about Young.

‘It’s the frame. Forget the weight, it’s the frame. He’s slightly built. Kyler Murray is actually pretty thick in his lower half. So is Russell Wilson,’ Zierlein said of two of the NFL’s shortest quarterbacks. ‘It’s frame you worry about. If a 325-pound guy falls on you, how does your body respond to it? How do you take the beatings over the course of a year.’

Indeed, Young is not a physically imposing guy. He can pass strangers on the street who would never guess he’s about to be a prized NFL draft pick. To his credit, however, he plays seemingly with an awareness that he’s among giants. He’s a brilliantly elusive scrambler and uses that skill for more time to throw rather than taking off on his own. NFL clubs will like that about him.

When he does become a rusher, he’s contact-averse − usually sliding, wisely so, to avoid taking any more hits than necessary. Scouts will like that, too, under the timeless NFL adage ‘the best ability is availability.’ That’s not to say he isn’t tough, because Young is utterly fearless about throwing the ball with a pass rusher in his face; he missed seeing plenty of big completions at Alabama because he’d been flattened upon release.

Getting up from hits like that is all the tougher in the NFL. Bigger, faster people will be hitting Young on Sundays, and the physics of that is simple enough: his body will absorb more punishment. He need not worry about falling in the draft. If one club wants a sturdier frame behind center, the next club will be glad to take him. He won’t be waiting long. He proved himself to be a phenomenal passer at the college level.

And hopefully, he’ll prove to be just as durable at the next.

Reach Chase Goodbread at cgoodbread@gannett.com. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY