CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bryce Young‘s biggest takeaway from a recent conversation with NFL legend Tom Brady was that being the first pick of the 2023 NFL draft doesn’t entitle him to anything.
“I have never thrown an NFL pass in a game,” the Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback reminded everyone on Monday, the first day of OTAs. “I have no stats, no wins, nothing. We’re all on an even playing field. Once you get into the league, where you get drafted, that doesn’t entitle me to anything.
“I have to work. I have to work as hard as I can to make sure every day I’m trying to get better, every day I’m improving.”
That’s what Brady made clear to Young and the other top quarterbacks — C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis — from the April draft, who on the first day of last week’s NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles met with the seven-time Super Bowl champion at the home of Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin to discuss brand building.
Brady should know. Of himself and the six quarterbacks taken ahead of him in the 2000 draft, the 199th overall pick (sixth round) was the only one who had any sustained success.
He retired after last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 251 wins, 15 Pro Bowl selections and five Super Bowl MVP Awards in 23 seasons.
“There were a lot of gems, a lot of nuggets that I was able to take away,” Young said. “I was able to ask him some questions about his career, kind of his mindset going toward it.
“For me, obviously being a young quarterback, I wanted to know things that he wished he knew at this age and things that he felt like were key for him to have success.”
Although Young doesn’t consider himself entitled to anything as the top pick, he is getting treated in a way Brady never was in 2000 when he began his run with the New England Patriots fourth on the depth chart.
Young is listed No. 2 on Carolina’s depth chart behind veteran Andy Dalton, but both quarterbacks took snaps with the first-team offensive line during Monday’s practice. That’s a trend that is expected to continue as the Panthers groom Young to be the starter as early as this season’s opener.
“I know the reality is that this is going to be Bryce’s [job] at some point,” said Dalton, who knew Carolina planned to take a quarterback with the top pick when he signed as a free agent during the offseason.
Brady didn’t move to second on New England’s depth chart until late in his rookie season. He didn’t get his first start until his second season, and that was because of an injury to Drew Bledsoe early in the 2001 season.
Young was drafted to be the starter, and so far, he hasn’t done anything to disappoint.
Carolina coach Frank Reich said Young was “10 out of 10” with his poise and command of the offense Monday.
“You could tell the way he was seeing it, the way he was working through progressions, accuracy of the throw, ball placement of the throw,” Reich said.
Young completed his first four throws in team drills and would have started 8-for-8 were it not for a drop on his fifth attempt. He seemed as comfortable taking snaps under center as he did in the shotgun.
“Bryce has picked it up extremely fast,” Reich said.
“He’s just got a good understanding of the game of football,” he said. “As an example, today, we had the script and one of the plays was written wrong. He brought it up and said, ‘Hey, this is supposed to be this, right?’
“Yeah, it was supposed to be a different tag on there. His understanding of football is really high level.”
Young and Dalton worked much of practice together while third-stringer Matt Corral, a third-round pick out of Ole Miss in 2022, worked separately with other players.
Corral is coming back from a rookie season cut short in training camp when he suffered a tear of the Lisfranc ligament in his left foot. He’s a good example of how nothing is guaranteed to any player regardless of where they were drafted.
There were some who wondered whether Corral would be on the roster after Young was drafted and Corral posted a quote on Instagram that seemed to question whether he wanted to be with Carolina.
Corral made it clear on Monday that the post had “nothing” to do with football and that he wanted to play for Reich.
Reich said Corral looks comfortable and is making good decisions and will get a lot of “preseason playtime.”
But Corral knows he has a lot to prove. He has known Young since the seventh grade and understands he has to stay focused on doing everything he can to be ready in case he’s called on.
Reich said all three of his quarterbacks were sharp Monday. Young plans to heed Brady’s advice and do everything to stay sharp.
“I definitely took away a lot,” Young said of his time with Brady. “To be able to talk to one of the greatest to ever do it is a huge honor and privilege.”