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Bryce Young didn’t even need a month to take QB1 from Andy Dalton

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No. 1 pick Bryce Young wasted no time staking his claim on the QB1 job for the Carolina Panthers. 

The Carolina Panthers used the No. 1 overall pick in April to select Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young. The expectation among fans was, of course, for Young to assume the mantle of QB1 in Carolina.

When OTAs started two weeks ago, however, the Panthers listed 35-year-old Andy Dalton as the team’s starting quarterback. The veteran split first team reps with Young, but he was the nominal starter.

That’s no longer the case.

Bryce Young takes next step toward becoming Carolina Panthers’ starting QB

On Thursday, the Panthers officially elevated Young into the QB1 spot. According to David Newton of ESPN, Dalton has started taking second-team reps and will continue in that capacity for the rest of camp.

“It’s just the next step. We had a couple of weeks to watch Andy. Andy has continued to perform at a very high level. We’re just trying to get our team ready. Everything is about what’s best for our team, and so this was just the next step.” — Head Coach Frank Reich, via ESPN

Dalton’s veteran wisdom and high-level NFL experience will undoubtedly be valuable to Young in the Panthers’ QB room. Even the best rookies face steep learning curves in the NFL. The 5-foot-10 Young is undersized for his position, but makes up for it with razor-sharp wits and an absolute canon.

He has earned the respect of “everyone in the locker room,” per wide receiver DJ Clark. The Panthers will be focused on internal growth and development next season, more so than winning games. Young, however, has the talent to be immediately impactful. He will also have much to prove as one of three QBs taken with the first four picks in April. The Panthers are hoping he separates himself from Houston’s CJ Stroud and Indianapolis’ Anthony Richardson.

Young started for two years at Alabama, arguably the best program in college football operating at the highest level of competition. There isn’t a better prospect-to-pro pipeline in the sport, with the possible exception of SEC rival UGA.

The lights in Charlotte, frankly, won’t be half as bright as the lights in Tuscaloosa. Young shouldn’t have any trouble performing under pressure and remaining composed in the NFL. It’s more a question of whether or not his small frame can hold up to the rigors and athleticism of professional football.

He was the top pick, so the Panthers clearly think he can thrive. Now he’ll get the chance to prove it from day one.

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