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Carolina Panthers Rookie Recap: Bryce Young

The Carolina Panthers gave up seemingly everything for rookie Bryce Young. Looking back on the 2023 season, was it worth it?
Bryce Young Rookie

The Carolina Panthers started off the 2023 season with a huge move for prominent rookie Bryce Young. They traded three first-round picks, two second-round picks, and DJ Moore to draft the Alabama product. That degree of draft capital heaped plenty of expectations on Young. Unfortunately, those were expectations he was unable to meet.

Bryce Young: Carolina Panthers Rookie Recap

Set Up To Fail?

Anyone who watched the Carolina Panthers this year knows the offensive line under-delivered. Bryce Young was under pressure on 41% of his dropbacks, which ranked fourth among quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks, per PFF. Young was not without blame. He was responsible for 15% of those pressures.

Being under pressure is one thing. However being unable to perform under pressure was Young’s downfall. According to PFF, he had a 39% completion percentage when pressured, which ranked last among all qualifying quarterbacks. He translated that to just 675 passing yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions.

When not pressured, he was completing passes at a higher rate than Jordan Love, C.J. Stroud, and Desmond Ridder. While not elite comparisons, it demonstrates the impact of pressure on Young’s game.

Who Is There To Catch Passes?

The offensive line may have received less attention if the Panthers receivers were able to get open. Two Panthers receivers, D.J. Chark Jr. and Jonathan Mingo, ranked in the top 25 for drop rate, per PFF. Additionally, they both ranked in the bottom 15 in terms of catch percentage. This occurred while they saw the second- and third-most targets on the team.

And while the receivers could have been better, Young sprayed his fair share of passes. According to Pro Football Reference, he threw a poor pass on 21.5% of his attempts. That means at least once per drive, he was missing his target. 

Is There An Upside?

While the numbers paint a bleak picture of Young’s future, the film reveals signs of promise. He looked much more confident when on the move, displayed poise in the pocket despite plenty of reasons not to, and was effective on scrambles. 

Take his performance against Green Bay for example. On multiple occasions, the Panthers ran a bootleg concept, enabling Young to roll out to his right and identify the open receiver. In a game filled with highs and lows, these plays were among his best where he was his most decisive.

Additionally, he continued to demonstrate a willingness to remain in the pocket throughout the season. A quarterback getting hit as often as Young could easily become skittish, scrambling at the slightest site of pressure. 

Instead, Young remained committed to working through his progressions. If anything, he should have found his dump-off options sooner. Although to be fair, there were many occasions where there was no emergency option schemed into the offense.

Lastly, when scrambling, Young displayed the athleticism that made him the first overall pick. PFF graded Young as the eighth-best runner amongst quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks, just behind Patrick Mahomes. While Young could use the receiving talent to open up more running lanes, he displayed a high degree of efficiency when necessary.

Where Does Bryce Young Sit After His Rookie Year?

The evaluation period continues for Bryce Young. After an unstable rookie season that resulted in the Panthers firing their head coach, he will be looking to settle into a new rhythm. He will need support to get there. An improved offensive line and increased receiving talent are necessary to assess how Young fits in the NFL. Young’s processing is promising. Now, he needs to translate to results. 

Main Photo: Bob Donnan – USA Today Sports

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