Panthers' Frank Reich says top pick Bryce Young is starting QB

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Rookie quarterback Bryce Young was moved to first team late during the Carolina Panthers' offseason workouts to show what he could do, but on Wednesday, coach Frank Reich took it a step further and called the top pick of the 2023 draft his starter.

"Yes, he's QB1,'' Reich said after the first day of training camp at Wofford College.

Reich said it's no surprise the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner has taken over the starting job from veteran Andy Dalton this early in his development.

"When we decided to pick Bryce, we imagined and saw the vision that we'd be standing here today saying he's QB1,'' Reich said.

The Panthers traded the No. 9 pick, a 2024 first-round pick and wide receiver DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears to move into the No. 1 slot to draft Young.

Young, whose only drawback as a prospect before the draft was his size (5-foot-10, 204 pounds), said it's a "huge blessing'' to be in the position he's in.

"I respect the coaches and I want to do whatever I can to play whatever role it is I'm called on to help the team,'' he said. "So [being called the starter] means a lot. For me, it's making sure I take things day by day. I want to keep improving, keep growing.''

Young acknowledged he "still has a long ways to go,'' but overall, the Panthers are more than pleased with the way he's taken command of the offense.

Reich saw a lot of "mental carryover'' from offseason workouts on Wednesday in terms of the way the former Alabama star adjusted to pressure, got the ball out on time and avoided making big mistakes.

Young completed his first three passes in team drills -- two to veteran Adam Thielen -- and four of his last five. He also had three straight misses in group drills, but overall Reich felt Young had a solid day and got rid of the ball on time.

Young was at his best late in practice when, under duress, he threw a strike between two defenders to wide receiver DJ Chark for a completion of at least 40 yards.

"Our philosophy is to take what the defense gives us, make the right decisions, and take chances to attack when we have opportunities to do so,'' Young said. "If the smartest and most efficient play is to go underneath or intermediate, we'll do so as well.

"That's really the mentality and the mindset. We don't feel like philosophically we're overlooking anything.''

Young was as loose and playful during his media session after practice as he was on the field with his parents -- Craig and Julie Young -- watching in hot, humid conditions.

He joked with reporters that he spoke to his parents maybe once a month before later admitting they speak almost daily. He also had fun talking about his upcoming singing performance in the rookie talent show, saying he practices in the shower without revealing the song he will sing.

Edge rusher Brian Burns, who didn't get to practice against Young during offseason workouts because he was rehabbing from ankle surgery, liked what he saw Wednesday.

"He does well improvising,'' said Burns, who has been cleared to practice full. "If he has to get outside the pocket and extend the play he can. Other than that, his biggest worry is his rookie challenge he has to do later. He better show out.''

Young has shown out since Carolina made him the top pick, reaffirming everything general manager Scott Fitterer and Reich saw during the evaluation process.

"He's unflappable,'' Fitterer said. "We saw that at the [pre-draft] dinner. He's a grown man. He looks young in the face. He looks really young. But he's a grown man.''

Again, Reich took that to another level, stopping just short of saying Young will start Week 1 at Atlanta as expected.

"This is thinking, grown man,'' Reich said. "He's in control. He knows what he wants and how he wants it done. That's a good place to start from.''