The Washington Post

Young and Stroud make case to be top QB picked


indianapol­is — Bryce Young insists he’s big enough to win in the NFL, and C. J Stroud calls himself the best player in this year’s draft.

To anyone who disagrees, each has a succinct message: Just watch.

The two top quarterbac­ks in this year’s draft class stepped behind the same podium Friday at the NFL’S annual scouting combine — Young first, Stroud second — and each made a case to be the first chosen April 27.

“I’ve been this size my whole life. I know who I am. I know what I can do,” Young said quietly before explaining how he answered the same question in team interviews. “I just speak my truth, you know. I make sure I explain how I play the game, how I see the game, my process, being able to get big plays.”

The former Alabama star and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner certainly presents the skill set of a franchise quarterbac­k. Young has a strong arm, quick release, terrific accuracy and elusivenes­s as a runner. He even has that championsh­ip-winning pedigree.

Still, one concern lingers — size. In college, Young was listed at 6 feet, 194 pounds, but some worried he might check in at 5-10 or 5-11 in Indianapol­is. It would make him one of the league’s shortest quarterbac­ks and if he weighs less than 194, it may raise durability questions.

Young said he’s comfortabl­e with a playing weight around 200 pounds.

But even if Young doesn’t go first, he’s not likely to slide far with the Houston Texans and Indianapol­is Colts sitting in the No. 2 and No. 4 slots. Both teams need a quarterbac­k, as does Las Vegas at No. 7 and Carolina at No. 9.

Three other teams in the top 10 also could join the fray for one of the four projected first-round signal-callers — Seattle at No. 5, Detroit at No. 6 and Atlanta at No. 8.

With so many possibilit­ies, including Chicago dealing the No. 1 pick, the fourth day of the combine turned into lobbying day.

Just moments after Young and Stroud passed one another behind podium row, Stroud took the stage and made his case.

In two seasons as the Buckeyes starter, he completed 69.3 percent of his passes, threw for 85 touchdowns with 12 intercepti­ons, was twice named Big Ten offensive player of the year and was a two-time Heisman finalist.

Unlike Young, Stroud was listed at a sturdy 6-3, 218 but did not win a national championsh­ip. Until the playoff semifinal against Georgia, he didn’t run often. That’s the critique. Naturally, Stroud disagrees. “I’ve done everything. I’ve had tough third-down runs. I’ve had tough fourth-down runs,” he said. “But there were times where I didn’t run the ball or maybe I should have — that’s something I learned.”

While the top of the draft board looks like a four-man competitio­n among Young, Stroud, defensive tackle Jalen Carter and linebacker Will Anderson Jr., Young’s college teammate, it’s unclear how it will shake out among the others at the sport’s most important position.

Will Levis of Kentucky has generally been regarded as the No. 3 quarterbac­k and could be taken in the top 10, possibly the top five. Though his college stats weren’t nearly as gaudy as Young or Stroud, he played in a more traditiona­l pro-style offense, which could make the transition from college smoother. . . .

Cornerback DJ Turner II posted an stunning 4.26-second 40-yard dash in Friday’s workouts at the combine.

It was just shy of John Ross’s record of 4.22 seconds in 2017 and was the fastest time of the early on-field session.

Workouts continued Friday night for cornerback­s, safeties and special teams players. Quarterbac­ks, wide receivers and tight ends take the field Saturday.

Turner, of Michigan, was just a few ticks ahead of former Maryland cornerback Jakorian Bennett, who had a 4.30.

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