Young’s height creates new debate for scouts at NFL combine

‘I’ve been this size my whole life. I know who I am, I know what I can do’

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Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud, left, talks to Alabama quarterback Bryce Young at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS – Bryce Young provided one answer Saturday at the NFL's annual scouting combine: He stands 5-foot-10 1/8 inches and weighs 204 pounds.

Next question: Will his small frame hurt his draft stock?

On a day Anthony Richardson put on an impressive show at Lucas Oil Stadium, Young's numbers will create debate among scouts and team decision-makers about whether Young should be the first player — or the first quarterback — selected on April 27.

Richardson certainly made his case with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, the fourth-fastest by a quarterback since 2003. The former Florida quarterback also broke the modern combine position record with a 40 1/2-inch vertical jump, and his 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump tied Matt Jones of Arkansas for the best mark by a quarterback since 2003.

Young's numbers, meanwhile, could have the opposite effect.

Typically, teams want franchise quarterbacks to be a little sturdier to remain healthy. Young's measurements would make him one of the league's smallest quarterbacks.

He doesn't believe it's a big deal, though he was listed at 6-0, 194 in college.

"I’ve been this size my whole life. I know who I am, I know what I can do,” Young said Friday when asked about the size issue.

The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama has all the other prototypical tools that franchises seek — strong arm, quick release, good accuracy, mobility and a knack for making big plays, even on the move.

The closest comparisons might be to Kyler Murray, whom Arizona took with the top overall pick in 2019, and Russell Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012 who led Seattle to its only Super Bowl title before landing in Denver last season.

And while the quarterbacks, tight ends and receivers were scheduled to do their on-field drills Saturday in Indianapolis, Young had said he wouldn't join them. The next time scouts will see Young will be at Alabama's scheduled pro day.

Many draft analysts believe Young, former Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, former Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama are the four players vying to be selected No. 1 overall.

Stroud performed well in the passing drills and another highly regarded quarterback, Will Levis, showed his arm strength. But Anderson is sticking with his ex-teammate.

“I would say Bryce played in the SEC, one of the best conferences in college football," he said. "Big defensive tackles, big defensive linemen, big pass rushers and took a lot of hits during his years there. I have all confidence in Bryce Young. If I was in the position to take him, I’m taking him.”

MORE WORKOUT NUMBERS

Trey Palmer of Nebraska logged the fastest 40-yard dash time among receivers, 4.33, narrowly outperforming Derius Davis of TCU (4.36).

Four receivers posted vertical jumps of at least 40 inches — Bryce Ford-Wheaton of West Virginia (41), Rashee Rice of TCU (41), Quentin Johnston of TCU (40 1/2) and Jalin Hyatt of Tennessee (40). Hyatt was tops in the broad jump (11 feet, 3 inches), just ahead of Johnston and Demario Douglass of Liberty, who both logged 11-2.

Former Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III had 18 bench reps, tops among his group. Joey Porter Jr. of Penn State and Cory Trice Jr. of Purdue were tied for second at 17.

Will Mallory of Miami (4.54), Zack Kuntz of Old Dominion (4.55) and Sam LaPorta of Iowa (4.59) had the fastest 40s among tight ends. Kuntz led the position with a 40-inch vertical jump and broad jump of 10-8.

Offensive linemen and running backs work out Sunday.

SUPPORTING CARTER

Defensive tackle Jalen Carter didn't speak to reporters in Indianapolis after Georgia authorities charged him with reckless driving and racing in connection to a fatal traffic accident.

Bulldogs offensive lineman Broderick Jones spoke in support of his friend Saturday.

“When we first met, he was a great dude, real chill, real calm, cool and collected, like nothing going on," Jones said. "He didn’t do too much, just sat around, you know, not into everything that goes on in life. He doesn’t do too much. He stays to himself, doesn't bother anybody.”

MISSING TEETH

Offensive lineman Cody Mauch came to the combine carrying 303 pounds. But it's what the former North Dakota State player was missing — two front teeth — that got everyone biting.

Mauch explained they were pulled in an emergency room after he collided with a friend during a seventh-grade basketball game and the teeth got knocked loose. The intended repairs didn't work, either, because either the replacements broke or Mauch lost his retainers.

Eventually, he decided to go without, giving him the trademark look of a hockey player — or Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, who also played toothless in green and gold.

“I say that I’m going to get them fixed after football, but I don’t even know if I ever will. It’s kind of just part of me," he said. “I think every team, every person I talked to here has had some kind of question about it.”

THROWING DARTS

Paris Johnson Jr. of Ohio State is ranked as one of the top offensive tackles in this year's draft. But occasionally, he makes a mistake, and he acknowledged Saturday that he made one during an interview with the Bears.

Chicago officials have been asking players whether they'd rather putt golf balls or throw darts. Johnson figured he'd be better off with the dart board. That's when the problems began.

He watched someone in front of him throw three darts — two nearly hit the bull's eye and the third did. Johnson's turn didn't go quite as well.

“The first two hit like some snacks in the corner and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re going to end this meeting,’” Johnson said before describing the third shot. “It hit the board, so I was happy. I should have probably chosen golf.”

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