The Carolina Panthers intend to start No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young immediately. The team took a big step toward that reality Thursday, promoting Young to the top spot on the depth chart, according to ESPN's David Newton.
The move comes two weeks into the team's voluntary offseason workouts. Prior to the move, veteran Andy Dalton was starting each drill with the first-team offense. Young will get those reps, and Dalton will shift to a backup role.
Panthers coach Frank Reich confirmed the switch, saying, "it's just the next step" in Young's development. Reich praised Dalton's performance and added the change is "about what's best for our team."
It shouldn't come as a major surprise Young is on pace to become the starter in Week 1. The team drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick and contrary to what other teams have done — cough cough, Chicago Bears — you don't have to start Dalton over your promising, first-round draft pick.
The Panthers have been not-so-subtly hinting at the change for weeks. Even when Young was second on the depth chart, he was still getting more practice reps than Dalton. The Panthers seemingly knew all along Young would get promoted, and made sure he received as much work as possible in practices.
Bryce Young set to start Week 1 for Panthers
Expectations will be high when Young takes the field in Week 1. He was the consensus top pick in a draft with multiple early-round options at quarterback. The last quarterback the team took No. 1 overall, Cam Newton, made an immediate impact as a rookie and eventually led the team to the Super Bowl.
Young could take a similar path, but he's walking into a tough situation as a rookie. Though the Panthers played better down the stretch last season, the team still lacks talent, especially on offense. After trading receiver D.J. Moore to the Bears, the Panthers' receiving corps is among the weaker units in the league.
Young doesn't have to light the NFL on fire in his first season. As long as he shows some signs of promise in Year 1, Panthers fans can dream on his potential.
The only way that's going to happen is if Young actually gets opportunities on the field. The Panthers will give him that chance right away.