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Is Bryce Young too small to go No. 1 in the NFL Draft?

As the NFL world descends on Indianapolis for the 2023 scouting combine, plenty of eyes will be on Bryce Young.

The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner currently has the shortest odds to become the first overall pick in the NFL Draft on FOX Bet. His actual height and frame might be the biggest obstacle in him going No. 1.

On the eve of the combine, Young has reportedly measured at 5-foot-10 1/2. So, although the Alabama sensation had the most illustrious college career of any available prospect, questions still remain about whether he can find success in the NFL due to his size.

Colin Cowherd is skeptical himself and touched on the subject during Monday’s edition of “The Herd” along with special guest and 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Joe Thomas. 

“It’s absolutely an issue,” Cowherd said.

One comparison Cowherd made was with former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, who measured in at under 6-foot-1 at the combine. Mayfield, of course, also won the Heisman while at Oklahoma before the Browns made him the top pick of the 2018 draft. He’s since had mixed results in the NFL and will likely be playing for his fourth team after splitting the 2022 campaign with the Panthers and Rams.

“Baker’s an NFL quarterback [but] he’s a little small, OK arm, wasn’t a great athlete — that’s not a No. 1 overall pick,” Cowherd said.

Why Bryce Young’s height could be an issue in the NFL

Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray remain the most notable recent examples of quarterbacks who have flourished despite being less than six feet tall. But they both are markedly bulkier than Young, who also reportedly weighs below 200 pounds. Hence, Thomas expressed concern about how durable Young will be at the pro level given how his smaller frame will force him to play.

“I think you’re right to be concerned,” Thomas said. “When you’re a short quarterback, you have a hard time seeing the middle of the field because your offensive linemen are that much taller than you. You either have to be really good, like Drew Brees was, at being able to drop a ball into a small trash can in the middle of the field, predicting where your receivers are going to be because you can’t see them and you’re going off of instinct and going off of what you practiced, or you’ve got to be able to get outside of the pocket. The problem is, when you’re a slight quarterback like Bryce Young is, when you get outside the pocket, eventually you’re gonna get hit.

“When you’re building an offense around a quarterback that is a little bit smaller — yes, he’s a good athlete and he’ll probably showcase some of that athleticism within that offense — but if he’s not [healthy], then what do you do? You’re just going to plan on playing with a quarterback who’s not going to be available for 60 percent of the games a year, half the games? I think that’s definitely a concern. If you’re taking a flier on a third- or fourth-round guy, that’s one thing. But when you’re going to make him a top-five pick, you need to have a great degree of certainty that he’s going to be available and he’s going to have a high ceiling for what you want to build an offense around.”

The Bears will be weighing such factors as they hold the No. 1 pick. With Justin Fields already in the fold, they’re reportedly leaning toward trading the selection and continuing to develop their dual-threat starter. 

Young reportedly won’t throw at the combine but will still meet with several teams. The Colts, who hold the No. 4 overall pick, have already made their interest in him public. With several teams seeking a solution at QB, prospects C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis are also expected to come off the board in the first round. 

Alabama QB Bryce Young will not throw at the 2023 NFL Combine

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