Pick Alabama football's Bryce Young over Kentucky's Will Levis in NFL Draft, these SEC defenders say
MOBILE, Ala. ― With the NFL Draft just under three months away, there has already been plenty of quarterback discourse. That's not stopping anytime soon.
Should Alabama football quarterback Bryce Young be the first one off the board? Or should Kentucky's Will Levis be the first signal-caller selected? Maybe even Ohio State's CJ Stroud?
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is one analyst who has Levis in the top spot, ranked ahead of Young and Stroud. In his latest big board, Kiper has Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter No. 1, Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. at No. 2, then Levis, Young and Stroud rounding out the top five.
That’s not necessarily the order in which Kiper thinks they will go. That’s just how he views them as overall prospects.
It will come down to whom a quarterback-needy team likes best and who’s available.
At the Senior Bowl, The Tuscaloosa News asked a handful of SEC defenders who faced Young and Levis in college who they would pick if they were an NFL general manager.
“I would say Bryce Young,” Tennessee defensive lineman Byron Young said. “Of any quarterback, I would take Bryce Young because he came to Neyland Stadium, the way he played, we were undefeated at Neyland this year. I looked him in the face every time. No fear. No fear in his heart. I feel like an NFL team needs a guy like that. You need a guy to where, no matter what, fans can’t rile him up.”
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Byron Young faced Bryce Young and Levis twice each. He said Levis impressed him with his big arm and thinks the Kentucky player will make a good quarterback in the NFL. But the Tennessee defensive lineman still remembers how difficult it was for him to sack Young. Byron Young only managed one over the two games.
“He’s the best player I ever played,” Byron Young said. “I feel like he’s the perfect prospect for NFL teams.”
This past season, the Alabama quarterback passed for 3,328 yards, 32 touchdowns and five interceptions over 12 games. Meanwhile, Levis threw for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions over 11 games.
In 2021, Levis passed for 2,826 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions over 13 games. Bryce Young threw for 4,872 yards with 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions over 15 games.
LSU safety Jay Ward also said he would draft Bryce Young before Levis. Ward played Levis once and Bryce Young twice.
“He knows how to win,” Ward said.
Mississippi State defensive tackle Cameron Young understands that well. He lost to Bryce Young twice. The Bulldogs lineman noted how Levis is a good quarterback who has some of the best pocket awareness he faced, but Cameron Young would still draft Bryce Young instead.
“I think he had the better weapons, but I also think he processes the field better in my opinion,” Cameron Young said. “He’s a big-time player and he made the big-time throws and he’s been in big-time games. That’s the guy I’m going with.”
Defensive linemen Ali Gaye (LSU) and Tavius Robinson (Ole Miss) also played Levis and Bryce Young in college, but both declined to answer who they would draft first.
“I’ll let the GMs make that decision,” Gaye said. “I’m not a GM. I don’t know what goes into the decision-making and how they pick quarterbacks.”
Many don’t. It depends on the general manager. But if a general manager values the opinion of Byron Young, Cameron Young and Ward, Bryce Young would be the first quarterback selected come April.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News/USA TODAY Network. Reach him via email: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Bryce Young NFL draft: Alabama QB over Will Levis, SEC defenders say