4 years ago, Byron Young was a surprising starter along the defensive line as a true freshman after the Tide found themselves short handed, and he was a consistent stater for the Tide over the next four straight seasons. The cool thing was, he got better every single year.
Young showed plenty of flashes as a freshman, but nearly as many mistakes as he shot the wrong gaps and lost gap integrity many times. But as he gained more experience, those mistakes cleaned up, and Young continued to be a constant threat to shoot into the backfield for an impressive tackle for loss.
One of the best and most notable was when he shot through the line on 3rd and short to stuff Auburn running back Tank Bigsby short of the 1st down line and got the ball back for Bryce Young to be able to drive the field one last time and send the game to overtime.
By his senior year, Young was not only a solid player with occasional flashes of brilliance, but he was also a team leader and a fiery, emotional presence along the defensive line.
I think that, while he did a good job adapting to Alabama’s 2-gap responsibilities, Young has the first-step quickness to be an even better player in a 1-gap 4-3 kind of scheme. At worst, he could carve out a long-term role for himself as a rotational interior pass rush guy.
That’s a rare quality, and one that the NFL typically drafts highly, even if the fans and media haven’t really been paying attention to him.
I think he could go as high as the 2nd round, but will more likely wind up a 3rd round guy. If he’s still around in the 4th, he’ll be an absolute steal.