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Bryce Young

Can Panthers get Young going?

Bryce Young had a disappointing rookie season, but it’s too early to assume he’s just another Zach Wilson. I would think there’s a decent chance he turns into a serviceable second quarterback this year (for fantasy purposes).

Granted, he was awful last year, averaging only 180 passing yards in his 16 games, and with only 11 touchdowns. His size will always be an issue. He’s listed at 5-foot-10 and 204 pounds, and he actually looks smaller. Among regular starters last year, he ranked last in passer rating, yards-per-attempt and winning percentage, and next-to-last in completion percentage (thank you, Will Levis). And rather than getting better, he actually got WORSE in the second half of the season.

But it’s not unusual for rookie quarterbacks to struggle, and a good number of those guys end up turning things around. In the 32-team era, 14 other quarterbacks selected with top-5 overall picks have finished with bottom-10 stats in their first season (and by “bottom-10”, I’ll use bottom-10 per-game production among quarterbacks who started at least half the time, removing the dynamic of some serviceable quarterbacks simply missing some games). Of those 14 previous struggling quarterbacks, six finished with top-11 per-game numbers in their second season.

TOP-5 PICKS WITH BOTTOM-10 STATS (their next year)
2003David Carr, Hou.11181.8211.1814.526
2003Joey Harrington, Det.161801.065.0014.027
2005• Eli Manning, NYG162351.505.0618.86
2006Alex Smith, S.F.161811.009.1314.725
2010Mark Sanchez, NYJ162061.067.1916.423
2011Sam Bradford, St.L.10216.603.0013.532
2015• Blake Bortles, Jac.162772.1919.1325.42
2017• Carson Wentz, Phil.132542.5423.0025.72
2017• Jared Goff, LAR152541.873.0720.911
2018• Mitchell Trubisky, Chi.142301.7130.2123.210
2019Sam Darnold, NYJ132331.465.1519.326
2021Tua Tagovailoa, Mia.122081.3311.1717.822
2022• Trevor Lawrence, Jac.172421.4717.2921.811
2022Zach Wilson, NYJ9188.6711.1113.831
2024Bryce Young, Car.???????

While a move up into the top dozen at his position looks unlikely, a move into the top 20 seems reasonable. Carolina has a new offense, with Dave Canales drawing up the plays. He had a lot of success with another struggling, undersized former No. 1 pick last year (Baker Mayfield). The Panthers have also pumped some resources into the roster, investing heavily in a new pair of guards (Robert Hunt, Damien Lewis), as well as adding receivers Diontae Johnson and Xavier Legette.

I won’t talk up Young too much (I don’t expect to draft him), but makes sense for some team in a 12-team league to select him as their second quarterback. If we’re in a league where some teams are rostering third quarterbacks, Young definitely will be selected.

—Ian Allan

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