The Carolina Panthers are getting closer to making a final quarterback decision.
Head coach Frank Reich elevated Bryce Young to the No. 1 quarterback spot in practice on Thursday, a choice he said is the “next step” in Young’s journey to becoming the Week 1 starter.
Young, the first pick in this year’s draft, is in competition with veteran quarterback Andy Dalton for the Week 1 starter spot, and this week is the first time that Young will begin each drill with the first unit.
He’s getting rave reviews from the receiving corps, including new signing DJ Chark.
“Everybody is here for him,” Chark said. “And we believe he can take us to some really high places.”
Should Young take on the starter role, which he’s expected to, he will look to right the ship on a season of inconsistent and mediocre quarterback play in 2022.
The Panthers split QB starts between Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and P.J. Walker last year, none of whom appeared to be the long-term solution at the position.
Mayfield threw six touchdowns and six interceptions in seven total games, Darnold had a 48.5 out of 100 quarterback rating, and Walker only managed 731 yards in five starts.
Young’s sparkling college accolades and the Panthers’ quarterback mess were why Carolina decided to take a shot on him with the first pick, which they dealt DJ Moore and four future draft picks for prior to the draft.
Young threw for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns during his Heisman-winning season at Alabama and followed that up with a 3,328-yard, 32-touchdown season.
He became the only quarterback in Alabama history to throw for over 3,000 yards in two different seasons.
The Panthers have been active in free agency to put talent around Young, signing Adam Thielen from the Vikings and Miles Sanders from the Eagles.
Though one of the questions about Young before the draft was his size — he’s the first QB under 207 pounds taken in the first round since 2003 — his coach appears to be developing confidence in the undersized rookie.
“He’s showing everything you want to see,” Reich said. “So, we’ll just keep giving him, and our team, the opportunity to get better and to earn that starting role. So far, he and a lot of guys have taken the step needed to earn that spot.”