Tom Brady was just beginning of NFL QBs mentoring Bryce Young

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Meeting Tom Brady, Bryce Young says, was “surreal.”

A chance to learn from a seven-time Super Bowl champion, just before the Carolina Panthers quarterback aims to live up to the lofty expectations that accompany the No. 1 overall draft pick?

“When you’re talking to a legend like Tom Brady and see the success that he’s had and the career he’s had, that means a lot,” Young told Yahoo Sports over Zoom, speaking in partnership with Lowe’s. “He was kind enough to reflect on his younger years and, you know, what he felt like worked for him and stuff that he learned later that he pushed us to accelerate.”

The opportunity, which Young shared with fellow rookie quarterbacks C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis, was unusual. But it’s not the only unusual and potentially advantageous access Young has to accelerating his transition to pro quarterback.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 20: Bryce Young #9 of the Carolina Panthers poses for a portrait during the NFLPA Rookie Premiere on May 20, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Bryce Young, posing for a portrait during the NFLPA Rookie Premiere on May 20 in Los Angeles, has quite a QB brain trust surrounding him in Carolina. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

When the Panthers dealt two first- and two second-round draft picks to acquire the first overall selection from the Chicago Bears, they were committed to landing their desired franchise quarterback of the future.

Three fewer shots at the draft board was costly — but they believed in their strategy, in part, because of the coaching guidance that quarterback would receive.

Panthers head coach Frank Reich played NFL quarterback for 14 years, while quarterbacks coach Josh McCown suited up in the league for 18 years. Offensive quality control coach Mike Bercovici spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers and another month-plus on the Arizona Cardinals‘ practice squad. Passing game coordinator Parks Frazier and tight ends coach John Lilly played quarterback in college.

That’s all before introducing peer insight from veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who has started 162 games in 12 seasons, and perspective from second-year quarterback Matt Corral who can relate most closely to Young’s newness.

There is no shortage of quarterback voices in Charlotte. That makes the outlier that much more important.

Jun 14, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA;  Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich watches quarterback Bryce Young (9) during the Carolina Panthers minicamp. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Young won’t have any shortage of former QBs to seek counsel in Carolina, led by head coach Frank Reich. However, one trusted voice for Young is from offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, a former running back. (Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports)

Bryce Young benefiting from similar, different perspective

Twenty-one of the league’s 32 offensive coordinators have spent time as an NFL quarterbacks coach.

Panthers coordinator Thomas Brown, whom the Falcons drafted as a sixth-round running back in 2008, has focused his three NFL coaching seasons on running backs and then tight ends. Panthers players find that refreshing in a quarterback-heavy teaching environment.

“When you get into a quarterback room where there’s three players and four coaches there and three of them are quarterbacks as well, you can see stuff from only one lens,” Young said. “It’s great to have different perspectives because at the end of the day, offensively we want to score points – regardless of how that happens.”

Veteran receiver Adam Thielen, who’s entering his 10th pro season, said Brown has “probably been the most impressive person in the building for me.”

Could Brown’s differentiated lens be just what the Panthers need to retool Reich’s philosophies as the 5-foot-10 Young stands 5 and 6 inches shorter than Reich’s past three starters?

Young focuses less on the stature difference and more on their shared principles, like the freedom at the line of scrimmage that Reich imparts and Young says was a “big point of emphasis for me in college.”

“For me, I focus on what I can control,” Young said. “I know who I am and I know what I can do and I’ve been the same size relative to the people around me for pretty much my whole life.”

He wasn’t any taller when he threw for 8,356 yards and 80 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions in college. Young wasn’t any taller when Alabama won 23 of 27 games that he started.

“I tell everyone that they’re entitled to their own opinion,” Young said. “I think that’s the beauty of sports. We all like certain plays, we all root for certain guys. I’m grateful for everyone who takes the time to have an opinion and to invest in sports and to pay attention.”

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