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5 clips: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Diving into the Heisman Trophy winner’s tape

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama
Bryce Young
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Yes, yes, yes, the Las Vegas Raiders do have a good quarterback in Derek Carr and, as of right now, likely won’t be in the market for Alabama’s Bryce Young during the NFL Draft. But before the angry virtual mob goes after my mentions, let me recycle a statement from the first edition of this column. A lot can happen/change between now and next April so let’s just enjoy some football while it’s the dog days of summer and the Raiders are still about a month out from reporting to training camp.

After replacing a first-round pick in Mac Jones, Young burst onto the scene last season for the Crimson Tide. He finished with a 66.9 completion percentage, 4,872 passing yards, 47 passing touchdowns to just seven interceptions, while adding three more scores on the ground and hoisting the Heisman Trophy along the way. Not bad for a first-year starter.

The Southern California native also managed to tie Kenny Pickett and CJ Stoud for the highest overall PFF Grade (92.2) among FBS quarterbacks and rank tied for third in ‘Big Time Throws’ (36). A big reason for those figures was his ability to push the ball down the field, as 14 of his touchdowns and 30 of his BTTs came on passes 20 or more yards past the line of scrimmage. Those numbers were tied for sixth and tied for third in the country, respectively.

But the stats just don’t do him enough justice as the film is even more eye-catching.

This is just an absolutely beautiful throw to take advantage of having a deep threat with 4.2-4.3 speed.

The Razorbacks are rushing three/dropping eight while running cover four behind it. Since the Crimson Tide are in an empty formation, the safety in the middle of the field – No. 15 – has to open his hips to the passing strength or three-receiver side in case all three go deep.

Once Young sees 15 open his hips away from Williams, Young knows where to go with the ball and lets it go before Williams has even beaten the corner. Part of that comes from just trusting the speedy wideout is going to win deep, but that anticipation prevents the Heisman Trophy Winner from underthrowing the ball, which is easy to do with a speedster like Williams.

Also, this is just a drop in the bucket that hits Williams in stride so that he can cap it all off by prancing into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown.

To pivot just a little bit, here’s a good example of what Young can do with his legs to not only avoid a sack but turn a potential negative play into a positive one.

It looks like he wants to hit Jameson Williams – bottom of the screen – on the stutter-and-go route, and Williams does get a step on the corner out of his break. However, Arkansas has the safety cheating over to his side so there is a pretty small throwing window to drop the ball into and Young wisely comes off his first read and works through his progressions.

The problem is nothing is open on the other side of the field either and Alabama leaves both tight ends in to block, meaning it’s a three-man route.

With everyone covered, the pressure starts to come and Young does an excellent job of feeling it and stepping up to avoid the blitzing linebacker coming from his blind side. He then puts a nice move on the edge rusher to make the edge miss in the backfield, turns up the field and puts a dirty move on the safety to pick up the first down.

What I love most about this rep from Young as a pro prospect is he didn’t just bail out of the pocket when Williams/his first read wasn’t open and took the time to work through the rest of his progression. Plus, having the athleticism to avoid three tacklers isn’t bad to see either.

Shifting gears back to the deep ball, how about an absolute seed for a 40-yard touchdown?

Arkansas is running cover three with three deep safeties and five underneath defenders to take away a shot down the field and the short routes, in theory. Alabama lines up in a trips bunch formation to the field and runs a levels concept with the outside receiver running a shallow, the outside slot receiver running a dig and the inside wideout on a corner-post route, giving Young three areas of the field to attack.

With Arkansas running cover three, the deep or post safety – No. 15 — is put in a bind and ends up taking the cheese and driving on the dig route to take away the intermediate throw. Once Young sees the safety start to come downhill or stop working for depth, he knows the deep shot is open and lets it rip.

The Heisman Trophy winner released the ball at about the 48 and Williams caught it on the top of the ‘B’ in the end zone, so this was about a 55-yard bomb that was right on target.

When you hear someone talk about an “NFL-level throw”, this is a great example of what they mean

Alabama has the ball on the right hash and I believe they are trying to run a smash concept – smash fade – to the wide side of the field, but the outside receiver runs the wrong route. The outside receiver should be running a curl or a slant or some version of a short route as I’m pretty sure the play design isn’t to have two receivers run to the same area and thus, invite another defender to make a play on the ball.

Regardless, the two corners at the bottom of the screen are in man coverage with no safety help so Young’s eyes light up as he sees John Metchie is one-on-one running the fade route. The quarterback throws with anticipation by starting his motion once the receiver breaks to the outside, which allows the offense to take advantage of the defensive back stumbling.

At the catch point, the ball is placed so perfectly that even the outside corner, who Young likely wasn’t even anticipating would be there, can’t get to it and the Tide move from their own end to mid-field territory.

Not only is this throw about 40 yards in the air, but it’s also made from the hash to the far sideline and Young ends up taking a shot after releasing it. You’re not going to find many better examples of an “NFL throw” than this.

How about closing things out with another deep bomb?

Georgia is bracketing Williams with the press corner and deep safety at the bottom of the screen. Williams runs a stutter-and-go route and once Young sees the safety hesitate on the stutter, he knows Williams is going to win on the outside.

Young starts throwing the ball before the speedy wideout clears the safety and hits the wideout in stride so he can finish in the endzone for a 55-yard score.

Again, part of this is the quarterback just knowing and trusting that his guy can win deep, but the anticipation and arm strength are jaw-dropping.