1 of 5 | Alabama quarterback Bryce Young speaks to reporters at the 2023 NFL scouting combine Friday at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Photo by Alex Butler/UPI
INDIANAPOLIS, March 3 (UPI) -- Dominating college football won't carry top quarterbacks directly to the NFL. Bryce Young and other passing prospects now face physical and mental scrutiny, but they dismissed those worries Friday at the NFL scouting combine.
"Where I end up is something I can't control," Young told reporters at the Indianapolis Convention Center.
"I'm going to give my all to whatever team it is that takes me. I'm just super excited to be here. It's my dream to play in the NFL."
More than 300 elite college football players came to Indianapolis this week for the annual gauntlet of testing.
NFL talent evaluators, coaches and other front office personnel pulled many aside for interviews and are on watch when prospects perform bench press repetitions, run 40-yard dashes and carry out other drills to show off their speed, mobility, balance, strength and mental aptitude.
Quarterbacks often face the most scrutiny because of the importance of that position at the NFL level -- and because of the hefty contracts that consume a large portion of salary caps.
Former NFL scouts and current front office executives have pointed to Young's frame, which is close to 6 feet and 194 pounds, as somewhat small for the professional level. That size could lead to durability concerns.
Young is the only quarterback at the combine who weighs under 200 pounds. Every NFL starting quarterback from Week 1 of last season weighed at least 200 pounds and almost all were taller than 6 feet.
But Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, possesses a unique ability to improvise, a calm on-field demeanor and expert-level reading of defenses.
Recent comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes could give general managers pause if they consider drafting another passer instead of the Alabama star.
"I've been this size, respectfully, my whole life," Young said. "I know who I am. I know what I can do. It's fair. Everyone can speculate and ask whatever questions are necessary, but I'm going to continue to control what I can control."
Young totaled 80 touchdown passes, with just 12 interceptions, over his final 27 games at Alabama. He led the Crimson Tide to a 24-4 record over that span.
Young tied Houston's Clayton Tune for the highest passing grade among college quarterbacks last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Young remains the projected No. 1 pick in many mock drafts, but that could change in the weeks before the April 27 to 29 NFL Draft.
The Chicago Bears have the No. 1 overall pick, but are on record as saying that the selection can be acquired via trade. The Bears also recently committed to current quarterback Justin Fields, a sign that they will not take a quarterback first even if they keep the pick.
The Houston Texans (No. 2) and the Indianapolis Colts (No. 4) are among the next teams in the draft order with an immediate need for a quarterback.
The Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers also have picks inside the Top 10 and could opt to trade up in the draft order or wait to land the top passing prospects.
Kentucky's Will Levis, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud and Florida's Anthony Richardson are the other quarterbacks many experts expect to be selected early in the draft.
Being picked one draft slot earlier or later can result in a difference of millions of dollars in rookie contracts. It also can bring a sense of pride to the player valued highest or supply career-defining motivation to those sighted by NFL general managers.
Levis is listed at 6-foot-3 and about 220 pounds, a typical size for an NFL quarterback. His arm strength and accuracy also should translate well at the next level, but Levis still can improve as a decision-maker.
He has drawn comparisons to Josh Allen, Jay Cutler and Jameis Winston, among others. He totaled 43 touchdown passes over the last two seasons, but also threw for 23 interceptions in those 24 games.
Levis, who spent this off-season addressing how he can avoid future mistakes, said he has the "strongest arm of anyone in any draft class in recent memory."
"This off-season, compared to off-seasons in the past, I've really been trying to perfect my movement going into a throw," Levis said.
"I think, when I've made some inaccurate passes, it was due to to the movement leading up to the throw. ... A lot of times I can get away with it, because of how talented of an arm I have."
Stroud is another consensus first-round pick in mock drafts and could be another player targeted via trade on draft day.
The former Ohio State star showed a tremendous ability to throw accurate, deep passes. He also quickly goes through his progressions, but often was criticized for not using his legs enough to pick up yards.
Stroud, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 218 pounds, plans to change that at the next level.
"I didn't do it a lot in college, and I feel like I should have," Stroud said. "It's something I do regret. ... I feel like that's something that I learned, and that's what football is about.
"It's about stepping back up to the plate, going back, working hard and fixing those problems. So that's something that I plan to fix and I'll show at my pro day. I'll show my ability to escape pressure. I've put it on film before, but since people don't think I can do it, I'll do it again."
Stroud totaled 85 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions over his final two seasons with the Buckeyes. He has drawn comparisons to Joe Burrow, Jared Goff, Justin Herbert and Geno Smith.
Richardson is arguably the most athletic quarterback in the draft class. He also stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs more than 230 pounds. The former Florida star is working his way into the first round in many mock drafts, with some even believing he could be a Top 10 selection.
Richardson often is criticized for inaccuracy and inconsistency. He admitted Friday that he needs to improve on both, but said he disagreed with the perception he would be a "project" for an NFL team.
"I don't even know what that means," Richardson said. "I'm willing to bring anything and everything they need for me. I'm going to work hard, be dedicated to my craft and be a leader for that organization. I'm going to continue to grow."
Richardson completed only 53.8% of his throws last season. He threw just 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions over his final two seasons at Florida, but also ran for more than 1,000 yards and scored 12 rushing touchdowns.
Despite his lack of college passing prowess, an NFL team could opt to select Richardson early in hopes that his potential is better than other quarterbacks in the class.
"I'm able to do everything on the field; run over people, jump over people, run past people, throw the ball pretty well," Richardson said. "I'm just tying it all together."
Richardson drew comparisons to Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson early in the pre-draft process. He also wants to be remembered as an NFL great.
"I want to be a legend," Richardson said. "I want to be like Patrick Mahomes. I want to be like Tom Brady. I want to be one of the greatest.
"I will be one of the greats, because I'm willing to work that hard."
Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends will participate in combine drills Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.