Bryce Young cements himself as draft’s top QB prospect with dominant Sugar Bowl performance


Playing what will assuredly be his final game as a collegiate athlete, Heisman winner Bryce Young left little doubt, cementing himself as the top quarterback in his draft class with a signature performance in Saturday’s Sugar Bowl, completing 15-of-21 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns in Alabama’s 45-20 win over Big-12 champion Kansas State. The junior from Pasadena capped his brilliant career with a New Year’s Eve gem in New Orleans, spreading the wealth by throwing touchdowns to five different receivers, helping the Tide overcome an early 10-point deficit en route to earning Sugar Bowl MVP honors.

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Assuming Young declares for April’s NFL Draft, he’ll finish his Tuscaloosa tenure with 80 career touchdown passes, good for second-most in school history behind only Tua Tagovailoa. While critics may bristle at his measurables (6’0”/194) relative to his quarterback peers, whatever Young may lack in size, he more than makes up for in arm strength and pocket presence, routinely uncorking jaw-dropping deep balls with pinpoint accuracy.

Even with a bad shoulder, Young still finished sixth in this year’s Heisman voting, leading ‘Bama to memorable victories over Auburn, Mississippi State, Texas and Ole Miss. Many players in Young’s position wouldn’t have risked injury by playing in a meaningless bowl game, but the fact that he played anyway speaks volumes about his character and leadership qualities, prioritizing team success over his own individual ambitions.

Barring a disastrous Combine workout in Indianapolis, Young should be one of the first players drafted, with Todd McShay recently mocking him to the Texans with the first overall pick. In his early evaluation of Young, McShay was complementary of the 21-year-old’s “poise” and playmaking ability, comparing him favorably to Chiefs Pro Bowler Patrick Mahomes.

Most players, at least early in their NFL development, are subject to growing pains, sometimes taking a year or more to adjust to the speed and expectations of football at its highest professional level. However, Young is better equipped than most in that regard, owing to his wealth of big-game experience playing in the SEC, a gauntlet occupied by the likes of LSU, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas, among other storied institutions. If he goes to the Texans at No. 1, Young would be reunited with his former ‘Bama teammate John Metchie, who sat out his rookie year while undergoing cancer treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Sean Gardner, Getty Images