Bryce Young goes No. 1 in NFL Draft

Deana Nichols, Contributing Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fans around the country held their breath as they waited for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce the first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.  

With the first pick, the Carolina Panthers made their selection – University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.  

“It’s surreal. It’s a dream come true. I’m blessed,” Young said in his post-draft interview. “I want to thank God for allowing me to be here, my parents and everyone who supported me. Everything was methodical, everything was planned out. I can’t be more excited, and I’m blessed to be a Panther.” 

To the Crimson Tide fanbase and many other college football fans, this selection was no surprise. Young had been discussed as a possible No. 1 pick since his draft declaration on Jan. 2.  

Prior to his selection, there had been multiple talks about whether Young was the best choice due to his height. At 5’10” and barely 200 pounds, he’s far outside the size range of the average NFL quarterback. 

In an interview with the SEC Network on March 23, Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked about Young’s height being a factor.  

“I think you should ask the people that had to play against him the last couple of years and see if they think it affected his performance,” Saban said.  

During his three seasons at Alabama, Young set records that made every Crimson Tide fan proud. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner is the only quarterback in Alabama history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in two seasons, finishing second in program history for career passing yards (8,356) and passing touchdowns (80). 

In his 27 games at the university, Young won 24 of them, even leading the Crimson Tide to an SEC title, and later a National Championship game. He was the first Alabama quarterback to win the Heisman.  

“This guy plays quarterback like a point guard in basketball,” Saban said during Alabama’s Pro Day interview. “So he has a lot of the attributes from a psychological disposition standpoint that are necessary to excel at this position.”  

This is Alabama’s first No. 1 pick since the first half of the 20th century.  

The Crimson Tide has not seen a No. 1 pick in the NFL draft since 1948 when quarterback Harry Gilmer went to the then Washington Redskins. However, in 1965, the AFL New York Jets selected Joe Namath at No. 1, before it had merged with the NFL.  

Following the end of the season in February, the Chicago Bears were set to have the first pick. However, in March, the Bears traded their pick to the Panthers for wide receiver DJ Moore and multiple other picks in the next two years.   

The last time the Panthers selected first in the draft, they selected Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in 2011.  

Fellow Alabama star Will Anderson Jr. also went in the first round, being picked by the Houston Texans when they traded the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 3 overall pick. Combined, Anderson and Young are the No. 1 offensive and defensive picks of the night. 

Follow the next two days of the NFL Draft on ESPN and ABC. Day two starts at 6 p.m. CT Friday, April 28. 

Questions or comments? Email Abby McCreary (Sports Editor) at [email protected]