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Scott Fitterer details Panthers’ plans for dealing with Bryce Young’s height, weight

Panthers G.M. Scott Fitterer joins Mike Florio to provide insight on the strategy with trading up for the No. 1 NFL draft pick, reveal when he knew Bryce Young was their guy and more.

The Panthers made quarterback Bryce Young the first overall pick in the 2023 draft despite the fact that he has non-prototypical height and weight. In a recent interview with #PFTPM, Panthers G.M. Scott Fitterer addressed the extent to which Young’s size impacted their analysis of him, and their plans for him.

“I think it’s something I’ve learned from [G.M.] John Schneider in Seattle,” Fitterer said regarding Young’s height. “What are the compensating factors? John went through that when he was looking at Russell [Wilson]. The one thing you said, ‘How’s his height going to affect him?’ Everyone was talking about, ‘He’s five-ten’. OK, what are the limitations here?

“Usually on a shorter quarterback, that’s being able to throw over the middle of the field for the first eight to 10 yards. One thing about Bryce is he can see over the middle of the field. We did the heat map with him where a lot of his completions were right over the middle of the field. Guys who are six-three, six-four, getting balls batted down, throwing over the middle, lower completion rate. The one thing about Bryce, he had a really high completion rate. He only had two batted balls and then you’re like, ‘OK, this guy understands how to slide in the pocket, how to find the windows and the throwing lanes.’ There’s a real art to that and he makes it look so easy. . . . They’re very subtle movements. He’s finding that lane, he’s throwing the ball. We didn’t think the height would be a factor with him. It was something we definitely studied, and you have to study it because it’s a real thing, but he does have those compensating factors.”

Although height can’t be added, weight can. Fitterer believes that, in time, it will come.

“Again, that’s another something that we really talked about,” Bitterer said. “How’s he gonna hold up? You do study guys like Tua [Tagovailoa] or other players. We can build up his body. One thing coming from Alabama, they have all the resources. He’s coming from a program that has all the resources.

“But we do think as his body matures, he will add mass. We will get him on a strength program that will bulk him up. I think the rules now in the NFL where you can’t land on quarterbacks with the body weight, that plays into it.”

Another strategy for helping a smaller guy is to ensure the smaller guy doesn’t get hit as much.

“The one thing about Bryce, he does get rid of the ball a lot of times before he takes a hit,” Fitterer said. “He’s not a guy that’s going to stand in the pocket and hold onto the ball for four seconds when that ball should be out at three. He will avoid some of those hits. He’s very elusive in the pocket. There’s a way that we are going to plan. There’s things we’re asking him to do like, ‘Hey, just throw the ball away, live to fight another day. You don’t need to stand in the pocket for the last second on this second-down play. Let’s just get the third-down and not take that unnecessary hit.’”

Fitterer also said the Panthers are focused on improving the interior of their offensive line, in order to prevent the disruption that can happen up the middle, especially with a shorter quarterback.

“If we can build it really stout up the middle, we think that’ll also help Bryce,” Fitterer said.

It’s good that they have a plan. The challenge now becomes making it work. It’s a calculated risk. The reward could be significant.